The use of organic acids to combat Salmonella in poultry: a mechanistic explanation of the efficacy

Avian Pathol. 2006 Jun;35(3):182-8. doi: 10.1080/03079450600711045.


Salmonella is a human pathogen that is commonly found in poultry products. It is possible to decrease chicken carcass and egg contaminations by adding organic acids to the feed or drinking water at appropriate times. Medium-chain fatty acids are more antibacterial against Salmonella than short-chain fatty acids. The antibacterial effect of these acids is species specific. Bacteria that are unable to decrease intracellular pH accumulate organic acid anions in accordance with the pH gradient across their cell membranes. The short-chain fatty acid butyrate specifically down-regulates expression of invasion genes in Salmonella spp. at low doses. Also medium-chain fatty acids and propionate decrease the ability of Salmonella spp. to invade epithelial cells, in contrast to acetic acid. Because not all bacteria are affected in a similar fashion by organic acids, it may be possible to use probiotic and prebiotic bacteria to achieve beneficial effects. If diets can be designed to stimulate organic acid production in the caecum, it may be possible to control Salmonella spp. via even easier and more cost-effective measures, compared with addition of acids to feed or drinking water.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Chickens / microbiology*
  • Fatty Acids / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids / therapeutic use*
  • Food Contamination / prevention & control
  • Salmonella / drug effects
  • Salmonella / pathogenicity
  • Salmonella / physiology
  • Salmonella Infections, Animal / drug therapy*
  • Salmonella Infections, Animal / prevention & control*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Fatty Acids