The Department of Agriculture (DA) has thrown its full support behind a University of the Philippines-Diliman study on fast and cost-effective methods of detecting salmonella in raw meat and meat products.
In a statement on Friday, the DA said the study aims to create a protocol to allow rapid detection of salmonella and its sources to further characterize the organism, control outbreaks and identify exactly what the mechanisms of transmission are.
“The study further aims to find the prevalence of salmonella species in slaughtered swine and other livestock and poultry–both in raw meat and meat products–in wet markets in Metro Manila,” the agency said.
“By looking at the genetic blueprints of the organism and analyzing the mechanism for its transmission and proliferation, the study would help ensure safer meat and meat products for consumers and improve further the growth of the agricultural and livestock industry in the country,” Dr. Windell Rivera, professor of microbiology at the Institute of Biology at UP-Diliman, said.
A certain group of bacteria causes approximately 90 percent of all food-borne illnesses in the world.
Within the group, salmonella is one of the most frequently reported and recognized causes of gastroenteritis and enteric fever, collectively known as food poisoning.
Studies have revealed that swine, poultry and cattle are very common carriers of this virulent microbe.
Hog livestock is the largest meat and livestock industry in the Philippines, with over two million metric tons of production in 2014 as recorded by the Philippine Statistics Authority.
The industry is constantly challenged by various microbial diseases.
Salmonellosis is one of the dreaded diseases that causes huge monetary losses because of morbidity-linked reduction in productivity and increased costs for disease treatment.
The challenge ofsSalmonella is exacerbated by the difficulty in detecting this pathogen.
Standard culture methods are inadequate since the number of bacterial cells shed from the animals is very low and well below the tests’ detection threshold.
The International Standardization Organization subsequently created a method to detect salmonella by first enriching the sample in liquid culture to make it more adequate for the tests, but this takes five days to complete.
The UP-Diliman research team will also classify the salmonella species according to what antigens they have.
Antigens are proteins on the surface of microorganisms that are used by the host to identify a foreign microbe for purposes of defense and immunity.
Classification of the species is significant to determine the subsequent appropriate prevention, control and treatment methods.
“This has the ability to tell epidemiologists, public health stakeholders and policy-makers which types/groups of the species to focus on and prepare for,” Rivera said.
The research team is also looking into the possible emergence of strains that are resistant to antibiotics, particularly ceftriaxone and ciprofloxacin, used to treat bacterial infections in humans.
The DA Biotech Program said better detection and better epidemiological data would mean better control strategies and better policies and current policies can be evaluated and adjusted accordingly.