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Ruling the Roost

While there has been a huge effort to try and sanitise the processing of chicken meat to eliminate bacterial contamination, they still persist in low numbers. Credit: roibu/Adobe

While there has been a huge effort to try and sanitise the processing of chicken meat to eliminate bacterial contamination, they still persist in low numbers. Credit: roibu/Adobe

By Tamsyn Crowley & Ben Wade

More than four million Australians suffer from food poisoning each year, many due to bacterial contamination of poultry products. Now nanotechnology is being tested as an alternative to antibiotic use in chickens prior to processing.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

It’s a story that will be familiar to many of us. Possibly it started with a night out with friends: a few drinks, good company and, seemingly, great food. But later on, maybe that night or perhaps the following morning, it starts. The cold sweat, stomach pain, the vomiting and nausea. You’ve got a bout of food poisoning.

Caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria, viruses or even chemicals, more than four million Australians suffer from food poisoning every year. While most people view food poisoning as something that isn’t too serious, maybe requiring a day in bed, symptoms in severe cases can progress to high fever and respiratory failure, particularly in more vulnerable people such as infants and the elderly. The cost of food poisoning to the Australian economy is estimated to be more than $1 billion per year.

Bacteria are responsible for the majority of food poisoning outbreaks in Australia. In the right conditions, some bacteria can double their numbers every 20 minutes, so if a piece of meat is left out on the bench on a warm day and it contains 100 food-poisoning bacteria, in just over 3 hours that same meat could now contain more than 50,000 bacteria! Bacteria thrive in warm conditions, particularly at human body temperature (37°C), so it only takes a small amount of bacteria to be ingested in contaminated food for it to multiply and...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.