Probiotics & Animal Product Quality

Human concern to reduce antibiotic usage in animal production

There is currently a global trend to reduce the use of antibiotics in animal food due to the contamination of meat products with antibiotic residues, as well as a growing concern that the efficiency of therapeutic treatments for human diseases might be decreased due to the appearance of resistant bacteria.
The reality is that increasing number of states or consumer groups progressively avoids food from animal fed with diets containing antibiotics.
Probiotics are perceived by consumer as natural solution to improve animal product quality and preserve food safety.

Pathogen control and food safety concerns

Consumption of animal products contaminated with pathogenic bacteria annually results in deaths and illnesses which frightened human consumers. It is within the digestive tract of animal host, that pathogenic bacteria proliferate before contaminating humans. Research continues to reveal useful methodologies for the control of pathogens in animal products.
The inhibition of pathogenic bacteria by probiotics can occur through different mechanisms:
- Attachment of the probiotic microorganism to intestinal surface, thereby inhibiting the attachment and proliferation of pathogenic bacteria in the intestine (barrier effect, also referred to as competitive exclusion).
- Production of compounds that are inhibitory to pathogenic bacteria, e.g. lactic acid produced by some bacteria can cause a reduction in pH that is inhibitory to many pathogenic bacteria. Some other probiotics produce specific compounds that reduce specifically the growth of potential pathogenic bacteria (Salmonella, E. coli, Clostridia..).
- Stimulation of the host immune system. Some probiotics have demonstrated effects stimulating the non-specific immune system as well as T cells and antibodies.

Improve intrinsic animal product quality

Stress occurs during the life cycle of ruminants, and monogastrics production. Environmental stressors affect digestive efficiency; they can also directly cause changes in the microflora of the animals which have a major influence in the modulation of enterocyte activity and expression of tissue function.
Probiotics have the capacity to better regulated digestive flora; several studies demonstrate positive consequence on:
- Feeding behavior (improved with more regular intake),
- Productivity (growth is higher and more homogeneous with demonstrated positive impact on tenderness).
In addition, more recent research demonstrates that improving the gut microflora balance reduces symptoms of stress and promotes restoration of a normal behaviour: there is a direct relation with the brain and this relation is called the ‘microbiome-gut-brain axis,’ which suggests there’s an interaction between the bacteria in the digestive tract, the gut, and the central nervous system.
Less stressed animals fed with probiotics may therefore be better-nourished animals and improved meat quality (meat tenderness, as well as meat color).