Testing has confirmed that a new range of bird crates with antimicrobial properties can help in the battle against campylobacter.

Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in humans and is commonly found in the guts of chickens. Transportation crates used to carry chickens from farms to processing plants are known to get contaminated with the bug and can cross-contaminate and infect unrelated flocks.

To address this, Anglia Autoflow has developed a new range of its crates which incorporate antimicrobial protection using the silver-based Biocote system.

Once the Biocote silver ion technology is incorporated into the crates at the manufacturing stage they can inhibit the growth of bacteria, such as campylobacter, on their surface, reducing the risk of crates becoming a source of contamination and infection in the poultry industry.

In one trial, standard crates were compared with the Biocote crates. Swabs were collected in triplicate from 10 treated and 10 untreated crates at key points throughout the crate decontamination process: pre-wash (once the live birds were removed), post-wash, post-sanitisation and then 1 hour, 2 hours and 3 hours post-sanitisation.

Before entering the decontamination process, the average counts of total bacteria were more than 14 times higher on standard crates than Biocote-treated crates, said the company.

Biocote’s microbiologist Richard Hastings added: “This shows how Biocote protection can help reduce the risk of cross-contamination during the poultry transportation process. Treated crates harboured fewer bacteria and campylobacter, which suggests they are less likely to pass bacteria from flock to flock.”