Better beetle control key to Salmonella reduction in poultry

Darkling beetle management is an often-overlooked component when it comes to food safety.

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New data shows a correlation between darkling beetle populations and Salmonella loads in poultry houses, highlighting the importance of pest control in pre-harvest food safety.

“The industry really understands that insects are reservoirs for certain types of diseases. But I think what really hasn’t been clear is how much do they impact that end result,’ Dr. Alissa Welsher, senior monogastric technical consultant, Elanco, said.

“This is one of those things where we know they’re there and we know that they harbor Salmonella, but we didn’t know to what degree.”

There is intense pressure to develop better preharvest approaches to food safety in the poultry industry right now, especially when it comes to Salmonella. Pest management is an often-overlooked area of concern when it comes to food safety in the poultry industry.

Finding a connection

While performing beetle population evaluations on poultry farms, Welsher wondered if there was a link between higher population counts and plant category statuses. So, she started performing some feather on rinses to measure Salmonella loads in the houses.

“The bird rinses are a tried-and-true measure that people use for determining on farm Salmonella load,” explained Welsher.

The results revealed a strong correlation between beetle load numbers and the feather on rinses. Poultry farms with a low beetle population had low Salmonella loads, while the opposite was also true.

“We would like to increase the numbers to make sure that all of our stuff is statistically significant,” she added, “so we have continued to do these rinses and beetle evaluations on farms, but as of right now, that is kind of following hand in hand and the data is correlating very nicely.”

To improve darkling beetle control in poultry houses, Welsher encourages farmers to implement an integrated pest management program for litter management and insecticides. All of these factors assist with pre-harvest food safety.

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