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Combining Salt with Heat Shows Way to Reduce Salmonella

Combining Salt with Heat Shows Way to Reduce Salmonella

Post-doctoral research associate Sara Milillo streaks plates on which cultures of Salmonella will be grown.

Poultry processors trying to keep Salmonella off their products may have a new procedure at their disposal: add some salt and turn up the heat. It’s more complex than that, but it’s the key point of recent research by Sara Milillo, a postdoctoral research associate in food science at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

“Our goal is to come up with a multiple hurdle treatment where we combine things to help prevent bacterial resistance by using different treatments that attack different functions or parts of the cells simultaneously,” Milillo explained.

Milillo’s study, published in the Journal of Food Science, examined the application of heat plus an organic acid salt solution to reduce Salmonella on chicken. The combined treatment lowered the amount of pathogen, leading Milillo to conclude that it may represent an effective method for decontaminating poultry carcasses during processing.

Milillo also tried heat and salt treatments separately and found that neither one could do the job alone.

She ran the experiments using chicken juice, a raw chicken model medium, rather than chicken carcasses. The results tell enough of a story to draw valid conclusions, but more information will be available by using chicken carcasses.

“We’re hoping the chicken juice gets us a step closer to an actual raw poultry system,” Milillo said. “But by using chicken juice initially we can screen lots of treatments and narrow down what’s the most effective before we go into a more costly use of actual carcasses.”

Milillo and industry personnel have reviewed processing procedures that could be adapted to the research findings. Heated washes are used to clean carcasses, so a salt additive in a heated rinse might be one place to implement new methods.

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