Ammonia and Farm Animals: A $3 Billion Problem

While most farms generally follow sanitation best practices, some health and disease risks are harder to control. One such risk is the excess ammonia produced through animal waste, which can lead to health risks such as E. coli and salmonella. Even trace levels of these diseases on even a single piece of meat can lead to extensive and costly product recalls. These recalls don’t just hurt a farm’s checking account,they can permanently damage public image and supplier relations.

Nitrogen and Ammonia in Agriculture

In order to produce meat with the necessary levels of nitrogen(N), farm animals are usually fed food loaded with N-rich proteins. The problem? Animals usually lose anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of this nitrogen as waste. When this waste decomposes, it reacts to uric acids in the manure, releasing harmful ammonia into the ground and the water.

This raises the risk of E. coli and salmonella outbreaks, which can lead to public health emergencies and product recalls, costing farms millions.

A Growing (and Costly) Concern

The food production industry is under higher levels of scrutiny than ever before. Between greater health demands from the public, and increased government oversight, farms can’t afford to make mistakes with their livestock. Just ask Aspen Foods. When they declined to recall over two million pounds of chicken due to the presence of Salmonella, the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service hunted down the Aspen products and removed them from stores and restaurants themselves.

What happened to Aspen Foods is far from an isolated incident. In fact, the USDA estimates that E. Coli and Salmonella outbreaks are costing America $3.1 Billion per year in medical expenses and workplace losses alone.

This isn’t a problem that will go away on its own, and fighting it can be more complicated than simply taking sanitary precautions. With the very biology of farm animals contributing to the problem, discovering and enacting a solution will take more than just monitoring and testing the meat supply.

A Creative, All-Natural Solution

Given that ammonia production plays a huge factor in contaminating a farm’s meat supply, finding way to reduce those levels could save farms millions each year by stopping the problem at its source. Recently, Nova Biologicals demonstrated just such a solution, reducing E. Coli and Salmonella pathogens by nearly 100% in farm chickens.

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