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AIMS: To investigate whether treatment of animals feeds with organic acids/formaldehyde may mask the presence of Salmonella, when assessed by standard cultural methods. METHODS AND RESULTS: Four commercial treatments were applied at the manufacturers' recommended rates on feeds artificially inoculated with Salmonella. The recovery of Salmonella from these treated feeds was assessed after specific antagonists were added to the treatments during culture. A control group of treated feed received no antagonist. Masking of Salmonella was demonstrated when the addition of antagonists resulted in recovery of Salmonella from the treated feed, compared with a negative recovery when no antagonists were added. There were large variations in the efficacy of treatments, and masking was demonstrated with all four tested treatments. One formaldehyde-based product showed greater efficacy and less masking. Masking was greater when high levels of Salmonella were present in the feed. CONCLUSIONS: Some organic acid or formaldehyde-based feed treatments may mask the presence of Salmonella. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: Feeds may be deemed safe despite being contaminated with Salmonella. The use of antagonists during culture may help assess the level of Salmonella contamination when organic acid or formaldehyde treatments have been applied to feed ingredients.

Original publication




Journal article


J Appl Microbiol

Publication Date





88 - 96


Acids, Acyclic, Animal Feed, Animals, Colony Count, Microbial, Disinfectants, False Negative Reactions, Food Microbiology, Formaldehyde, Histidine, Salmonella, Sodium Hydroxide, Sorbic Acid