Sugar Product May Substitute for Antibiotic in Animal Feed

Linda Benedict  |  6/1/2005 12:38:45 AM

Donal Day

A product made from Louisiana sugar that may help reduce the incidence of poultry-borne food poisoning, as well as help slow the emergence of drug-resistant pathogens, is under investigation at the Audubon Sugar Institute.

A branched glucooligosaccharide, prepared by the fermentation of sugar, was found to be an efficient “prebiotic” or functional food. A prebiotic is a compound that when taken in the diet favors the establishment of health-maintaining bacteria to the exclusion of harmful bacteria.

Oligosaccharides are already popular functional foods with numerous applications as food additives in such products as soft drinks and cookies. Glucooligosaccharides are widely sold as food supplements in Asia to help people with digestive disorders. But they are not available in this country.

Current technology for the production of glucooligosaccharides is complicated and costly, making it prohibitive to use them in animal feed. However, use of a unique strain of microorganism grown on sugar in the presence of specific inhibitors results in the rapid production of a group of glucooligosaccharides. The cost would be about one hundredth of what it is now and thus allow their use in animal feed.

Use of these glucooligosaccarides in poultry feed will favor the growth of healthy, Salmonella-free birds, without using antibiotics. Less use of antibiotics helps reduce the development antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The next step is working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to test this product on chickens.

Donal Day, Professor, Audubon Sugar Institute, St. Gabriel, La.

(This article appeared in the fall 2001 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)

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