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The microbiological safety of duckweed fed chickens: a risk assessment of using duckweed reared on domestic wastewater as a protein source in broiler chickens

Elsevier Ltd
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.pce.2003.08.021
  • Microbiological Safety
  • Duckweed-Fed-Chickens
  • Risk Assessment
  • Domestic Broiler Chickens
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Medicine


Abstract The possibility of transmission of pathogens from duckweed supplemented feed to chickens and consequently to the human consumer necessitated the microbiological testing of duckweed fed chickens. This assessment was thus done to determine whether there is transmission of pathogens from the duckweed supplemented feed to the chickens; determine whether such infection would be systemic or be confined to the gastro-intestinal tract of the birds; and to investigate the microbial load and distribution of the microbes with age. The study birds were sacrificed at 3, 6, 8 and 10 weeks of age and examined for the indicator organisms Escherichia coli and Salmonella spp. There was no discernible pattern in the microbial load of both the duckweed fed chickens and control birds with age although the control birds sampled clearly had a lower microbial load than the experimental flock. Some Salmonella and two enteropathogenic E. coli strains were isolated from control and experimental sub-samples at 3 weeks. There were no Salmonellae isolated in the subsequent batches of birds and feed although a number of E. coli were isolated. More isolates were obtained from the three weeks’ sub-samples (collected during wet weather) than from all the other sub-samples. The use of duckweed at this inclusion rate under the processing conditions at Nemanwa was thus concluded to be microbiologically safe as long as due caution is exercised during the processing of the duckweed and handling of the birds. There are indications that the chickens may get contaminated especially during wet weather as evidenced by the isolation of E. coli and Salmonella spp from the first batch sub-samples. This was attributed to poor environmental sanitation at the plant particularly in view of the prevailing wet conditions at the time.

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