The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has patented a chlorate-based compound that significantly reduces levels of salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 in the animals' digestive tract.

An ARS news release says Microbiologist Allen Byrd led the research of the compound in poultry for the ARS Food and Feed Safety Research Unit (FFSRU) in College Station, Texas.  

Byrd gave the powder-like additive to more than 200 market-age turkeys and 2,000 broiler chickens 48 hours before they went to processing. 

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The incidence of Salmonella dropped from 35 percent to zero in turkeys, and from 37 percent to two percent in broilers, according to the news release.

FFSRU Microbiologist Robin Anderson developed the experimental chlorate five years ago, at the urging of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

ARS has patented the technology, and FFSRU researchers are working to further develop it to make it ready for approval by regulatory agencies.