A recent University of Georgia study has shown that feeding chickens a blend of plant-based oils in their drinking water can help prevent Salmonella contamination.

Walid Alali, a food safety scientist with the University of Georgia in Griffin, has been conducting research on reducing the harmful bacterium in an effort to reduce human illness.

His work, published in the October issue of Food Control, demonstrated that the adding of a product known as Mix-Oil, a highly concentrated blend of essential oils from thyme, eucalyptol, and oregano developed by the Italian company Animal Wellness Products (AWP) in 2004 can help prevent Salmonella contamination. At the University of Georgia poultry research facility, Alali compared Mix-Oil to two organic acids traditionally used in the poultry industry to reduce Salmonella carried by poultry. Farmers currently use organic acids in conjunction with probiotics, a cocktail of good bacteria that compete with the Salmonella and other bad bacteria.

Findings from the University of Georgia study showed that poultry fed Mix-Oil in their water had higher weight gains, a lower feed-conversion rate, and lower mortality rates. The birds fed Mix-Oil also drank as much water as they did before the Mix-Oil treatment was added and more water than birds that were given lactic acid to prevent Salmonella.