The Abu Dhabi poultry industry is close to producing drug-free chickens after research conducted with dates found that their pits, which are usually spat out or discarded, provide chicks with a natural antibiotic that leaves no residue in the meat.
Worldwide concern exists over man-made antibiotics used in animal feed and water to fight disease and promote faster growth. Birds can develop a resistance which require stronger strains and can put humans at risk.
Replacing antibiotics with date pits to protect chickens from disease could save the UAE thousand of dirhams and boost poultry farming in the UAE while reusing a waste product, said head researcher Ahmad Soliman Hussain, professor of poultry nutrition at the department of aridland agriculture at the UAE University in Al Ain.
“There is an increasing interest in finding alternatives, especially given the ban on sub therapeutic antibiotic usage in Europe and other parts of the world. Date pits degraded by fungi contain a broken down dietary fibre which could be used as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to antibiotic growth promoters,” he told Gulf News.
Hussain has found that by replacing 10 to 20 per cent of normal chicken feed, usually maize or soy, with ground date pits, the mixture works as a natural antibiotic.
Researchers at the Faculty of Food and Agriculture recorded that the date pits successfully lowered e-coli, cambylobacter, shigella and salmonella in lab trials.