The development of chlorophyll-based markers in poultry diets to aid detection of fluorescent fecal contamination

M. R. F. Lee*, D. Leemans, V. J. Theobald, H. R. Fleming, A. P. Gay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Incidents of foodborne illness associated with consuming undercooked or raw chicken are often linked to 2 causative pathogens: Campylobacter spp. or Salmonella spp. Numerous studies have shown that contamination of carcasses results when pathogens are transferred from the intestinal tract or fecal material on feet and feathers to the dressed carcass. Ultraviolet spectral imaging to detect surface fecal and ingesta contamination on poultry carcasses may provide a solution to aid detection. However, poultry diets do not provide sufficiently high levels of natural fluorophores for this system to be reliable. This study investigated the potential of chlorophyll-based feed additives to improve fluorescence of the feces and narrow the excitation and emission wavelengths to aid in the development of a simple visualization system. Twenty-four hens (Gallus gallus domesticus) were allocated at random to 1 of 4 treatments: control (C, no marker), Zn chlorophyllin, Mg chlorophyllin, or Fe chlorophyllin. All markers were incorporated into mash before pelleting at a rate of 1 g/kg of DM. The experiment consisted of two 4 x 4 Latin squares with each period consisting of 2 wk. Feces were collected and extracted in acetone: water (50:50; vol/vol) with fecal fluorescence emission spectra determined using a Jasco FP-6200 Spectrofluorometer with excitation at 382 nm. A main peak evolved at wavelength 670 nm with the total area under the peak used as fluorescence intensity. Following 7 d of marker supplementation, the 3 markers improved the fluorescence intensity by x14.8, 12.8, and 6.9 for Fe, Mg, and Zn chlorophyllin, respectively, compared with the control. The addition of feces containing Mg chlorophyllin to chicken carcass increased detection of the feces compared with feces with no marker. Also, due to the plain background of chicken skin, a simple image at 675 nm with appropriate thresholds would allow detection of contaminated carcasses at the current slaughter line speed without the need of expensive hyperspectral imaging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3251-3258
Number of pages8
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • fecal contamination
  • fluorescent visualization
  • chlorophyllin
  • hazard analysis and critical control points
  • dietary marker
  • MEAT


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