USDA Funds Program Grant Totaling $2 million

Dr. Anup Kollanoor Johny, an Assistant Professor in Animal Science, has devoted a significant part of his early research career to investigate the potential of phytogenics (plant-derived antimicrobial compounds/essential oils) to combat foodborne pathogens that cause human infections. In a new collaborative grant funded by the USDA, he and colleagues from seven other US universities are working together on selected phytogenics for improving the postharvest safety of organic poultry.

Dr. Johny received a $260,000 grant from the USDA NIFA Organic Research and Education Initiative program to develop phytogenics to reduce Salmonella from reaching the consumers through organic chicken and chicken products. He will work to develop applied solutions to kill Salmonella using select phytogenics and their nanoemulsions. Currently, the US organic producers and processors can use chemicals such as chlorine as antimicrobial wash to control pathogens. However, chlorine gets neutralized by common contaminants such as feathers, blood, and excreta. As Dr. Johny’s research reveals, phytogenics could be a great option to prevent the colonization of Salmonella in the poultry gastrointestinal tract. However, Salmonella can live on the surface of poultry products, therefore, destroying them on meat is important to make our organic supply safe for human consumption.

Once the results are obtained, the researchers in the project will collaborate with organic industry to encourage phytogenics in their processing practices. Mr. Wayne Martin, the extension educator and Co-PI of the project, will work with Dr. Johny to disseminate the research.
Dr. Johny is a veterinarian from India, has a Master’s degree in Veterinary Science, and a doctoral degree in Animal Science from the University of Connecticut. Apart from the research on phytogenics, his research at the University of Minnesota involves the development of alternatives to antibiotics approach for preharvest safety of poultry from applied and mechanistic angles.

This project is USDA grant #59-6022-7-002; One-Two Punch for Organic Poultry Processing – Knocking Out Foodborne Pathogens with Plant-Derived Antimicrobials.