WASHINGTON (FNS) -- An anti-salmonella spray just approved by the Food and Drug Administration is being heralded as a significant food-safety step and the first of a new generation of such treatments targeting meat.
The spray, containing salmonella-eating microbes, is applied to recently hatched chicks that peck at it as they clean their feathers.
The microbes take up residence in the chicks' digestive track, where they attack salmonella, which is commonly found in poultry intestines.
Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman said the spray could lead to a potential revolution in food safety, with the concept being applied to other farm animals. Similar research is being done for cattle and hogs.
"This is a major milestone for food safety," Glickman said in a speech announcing the spray.
Tests on 80,000 chicks showed that the spray lowered the presence of salmonella to zero with just one application.
The poultry industry already takes measures to reduce the bacteria's presence when processing birds, such as chlorine washers and cold baths. However, the bacteria often survives. The last line of defense in ridding poultry of the microbe is by cooking it thoroughly.
A spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based National Broiler Council said the spray would likely be least tested by poultry farmers.
However, the spokesman for the trade group said the industry is also looking at other anti-microbial agents to employ at different steps in processing.