Vitamin E controls listeria infections in turkeys, study shows
- Staff writers
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- Researchers say extra vitamin E fed to turkeys appears to help control infections from listeria.
- People who eat foods that contain this bacteria can get listeriosis.
- This disease is especially dangerous to pregnant women, newborn babies and people with weakened defenses.
- The United States has more than two thousand cases of listeriosis each year.
- Some cases have been linked to poultry products that have not been cooked enough.
- The researchers found that vitamin E improved the ability of turkeys to fight the growth of listeria.
- The findings could help other meat industries as well.
- Irene Wesley led the study for the United States Department of Agriculture.
- Researchers from Iowa State University and the University of Arkansas also took part.
- The findings appeared in Poultry Science magazine earlier this year.
- Vitamin E is found in oils from vegetables, grains and animals.
- It helps protect some kinds of fatty acids that are necessary for healthy cells.
- Vitamin E helps prevent oxygen from combining with these fats to cause damage to cells.
- Turkeys need vitamin E for normal development.
- But the scientists added extra amounts to the diet of two groups of turkeys.
- Two other groups were not given any extra vitamin E. After six weeks, the researchers infected all the young turkeys with listeria.
- The scientists then tested the birds for the presence of the bacteria over a period of time.
- They say chickens and turkeys that receive added vitamin E develop more infection-fighting cells called lymphocytes.
- The increased number of these cells appears to also help protect against other diseases that can be carried by birds.
- Earlier tests at Iowa State showed that extra amounts of vitamin E can improve the quality of meat as well, and keep it fresh longer.
- This VOA Special English Agriculture Report was written by Mario Ritter.