Seeding Food Innovation - Awarded Project 2017

Replacing Sustainable production of animal protein in the absence of antibiotics

Project Description

Antibiotic Growth Promoters (AGPs) have been used for decades in poultry production for growth promotion. However, in view of the worldwide ban of AGPs and the rising concerns over the spread of antibiotic resistance affecting human health, finding alternatives to antibiotics has become a necessity. Although AGPs have been effectively reducing the burden of enteric diseases, the removal of AGPs is likely to precipitate devastating diseases like Necrotic Enteritis (NE). It is of note that the economic losses to the global poultry industry due to NE are estimated to be $6 billion/year. Probiotics have been shown to effectively manipulate the gut microbiota to protect poultry from pathogens such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. Some evidence also suggests the usefulness of probiotics in preventing NE. Hence, we intend to take a rational approach to develop defined probiotics that would not only prevent NE but also offer immune-enhancing activities to improve poultry gut-health, in general.

Relevance to the field of food innovation

Efforts to restrict dietary antibiotics in food animal production in Canada are rapidly underway. In the context of poultry, the Canadian poultry industry has identified NE as one of the most important diseases that could have a devastating impact on the vitality of this industry. Hence, finding alternatives to antibiotics is a top priority area for poultry production in Canada. To this end, developing effective probiotics-based alternatives to antibiotics will not only benefit bird health and production, but will also serve as a key strategy to improve the microbiological safety of poultry products. On the social impact front, eliminating the use of AGPs in poultry production will reduce the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance between the poultry and public as well as minimize the adverse effects of antibiotics to the environment.

Anticipated outcome

Dietary antibiotics have been widely used in food animal production to prevent diseases such as NE in poultry. A likely ban on antibiotics will negatively impact the Canadian poultry industry. In the face of this anticipated challenge, alternative means to control enteric diseases in poultry will benefit the industry’s growth and sustainability. The proposed work is anticipated to benefit 3 major constituencies: 1. Chicken producers by reducing their losses due to mortality and antibiotic costs; 2. Poultry industry at large, by addressing the need to reduce the use of antibiotics; 3. Society in general, by improving food safety and reducing the likelihood of antimicrobial resistance emergence in bacteria of significance to public health.


Dr. Shayan Sharif

Dr. Shayan Sharif earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1991 (with distinction) from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tehran. Subsequently, he came to the University of Guelph in 1993 to pursue a PhD degree in the area of Immunology and Immunogenetics. Dr. Sharif received a » More Info

Dr. Raveendra Kulkarni

Dr. Kulkarni is an Adjunct Professor and an Associated Graduate Faculty in department of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. He is also the Research Coordinator for Poultry Health Research Network at Guelph. He obtained his BVSc (Eqv. DVM) in Veterinary Medicine and Masters in » More Info

Dr. Joshua Gong

Dr. Joshua Gong is a senior Research Scientist at Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada located in Guelph, an Adjunct Professor with University of Guelph and University of Manitoba, and a member of Scientific Advisory Committee of Canadian Poultry Research Council. He currently serves on the Editorial Board of » More Info