BioAust Health seeks partner for Campylobacter control product

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: iStock
Picture: iStock

Related tags Food poisoning Chicken Retailing Campylobacter

BioAust Health has created a range of products with natural bioactives that it claims can reduce Campylobacter by greater than 5-log.

The firm is ready to move to final trials and product registration but needs a partner for this process.

It has completed initial proof-of-concept university trials with an Australian supermarket chain and results included complete removal of Campylobacter from the chicken gut.

The natural bioactives are extracted from native plants from Australia, China, Philippines and Vietnam via contract supply.

While there has been progress in reducing levels of contamination they are still at between 30% and 50% of slaughtered poultry carcases and retail products worldwide.

Campylobacter is one of the most common causes of food poisoning diarrhoea in humans. In Australia about 200,000 people are infected each year.

Mixture of bioactive compounds

Keith Quigg, managing director and CEO of BioAust Health, said the product can be delivered through feed or water.

“Campylobacter differs in rates based on location and region but according to FSANZ the contamination levels are 84% for Campylobacter and 22% for Salmonella​," he told FoodQualityNews.

“New Zealand has done work on freezing methods. There are more English in Australian retail and they are pressing to take out chlorine and use freezing which has brought the issue to the fore.

“We looked at essential oils and picked out selective compounds to have the strongest effect. The extracts are from eucalyptus, tea-tree oil, lemon-scented myrtle; it is a mixture of compounds from those areas for a new formula.

“Somewhere between 90-100bn broiler chickens are in the market, if we say a rate of $0.03 cents per bird to keep it clean of Campylobacter, it is a $3bn business.

“We are looking at equity investors who might want to own the product and for partners anywhere. Once it is out there and proven it becomes a necessity as once one large grower has a cleaner product then the others are under pressure to keep pace.

"We would like to keep control of the product until commercialisation is complete then an equity partner can take control, it will be in the hands of an organisation who can take it to markets they see as appropriate, and we can look at continuous improvement and other markets such as pork but we will stay in food security."

BioAust Health’s small scale testing of a blend of botanically derived bioactives for delivery to the lower gut of the broiler chicken can eliminate infections of C. jejuni up to 7.6 log and increase chicken growth rate over 35-40 days by 4 to 6% and feed conversion by 3-4%.

The product will enable industry to reduce Campylobacter infection without changing the normal gut microflora.

The firm is looking for large scale trials in the US, China and Australia and to test the commercial product under local conditions before later expansion into European markets.

Product registration in Australia with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is needed but it could be commercial within nine months.

The firm wants to find a partner to do large scale trial testing with 80,000 birds and write-up results.

Retailer and processor demand

Quigg said Coles, Woolworths and Walmart have expressed interest in the product.

“We are still in final trial stage, we have not put out recommendations on how it is to be used," ​he said.

“Where is the Campylobacter issue most often felt? With retailers in Australia they often self-insure against claims for food poisoning, they are wearing that cost. When we take this to retailers they all say there are heavy costs to manage food poisoning claims.

“It has to be producers who are the targets as they have pressure from retailers. Each part of the world has different big players and a number of smaller independent growers, so the first target is major producers.

“There is no transfer of the bioactives from the gut to the meat. The technology is simple and moves away from antibiotics. It is a slow release process that ensures the bird is not re-infected from itself after it is treated.”

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