Microbiological Safety of Chicken Litter or Chicken Litter-Based Organic Fertilizers: A Review
Chicken litter or chicken litter-based organic fertilizers are usually recycled into the soil to improve the structure and fertility of agricultural land. As an important source of nutrients for crop production, chicken litter may also contain a variety of human pathogens that can threaten humans who consume the contaminated food or water. Composting can inactivate pathogens while creating a soil amendment beneficial for application to arable agricultural land. Some foodborne pathogens may have the potential to survive for long periods of time in raw chicken litter or its composted products after land application, and a small population of pathogenic cells may even regrow to high levels when the conditions are favorable for growth. Thermal processing is a good choice for inactivating pathogens in chicken litter or chicken litter-based organic fertilizers prior to land application. However, some populations may become acclimatized to a hostile environment during build-up or composting and develop heat resistance through cross-protection during subsequent high temperature treatment. Therefore, this paper reviews currently available information on the microbiological safety of chicken litter or chicken litter-based organic fertilizers, and discusses about further research on developing novel and effective disinfection techniques, including physical, chemical, and biological treatments, as an alternative to current methods.
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