Beef Buzz News
USDA E. Coli Research Projects Aim to Improve Food Safety by Monitoring and Mitigating STEC
Mon, 15 Jun 2015 16:52:11 CDT
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is funding a multi-year $25-million project, studying the occurrence of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (S-T-E-C) in beef production to help significantly advance beef safety knowledge to protect human health. The S-T-E-C project is focusing on eight different subsets of E.coli including O157:H7, the E.coli strain that caused the outbreak at Jack in the Box restaurants. There are 15 different institutions involved. The lead institution is the University of Nebraska. Others include Kansas State University, Texas A & M, New Mexico State University, among others. A veterinarian from Mississippi State University, Dr. Dave Smith, said this work is important for beef cattle producers and consumers.
Ron Hays Beef Buzzes with Dr. Dave Smith of Mississippi State University
“When we look at this whole problem of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, what we know from studying a specific one, S-T-E-C O157:H7, is that live cattle are the source of the organism,” Smith said.
The research has been looking at when and where does it occur and why does it occur. The research is also looking at what can be done with that information to make it less likely to occur in live cattle. Dr. Smith said his project is trying to find ways to reduce E. coli in live cattle.
“A lot of research is about understanding, well what are those conditions that favor the organism, either its ability to grow in the GI tract or survive in the environment to be picked up by an animal,” Smith said. “So, it’s understanding those things that let us be able to tell cattlemen, these are the things that the industry can do that would reduce the risk for this organism.”
Right now, Smith’s research is focused on two areas: how this organism is transferred, and development of a feeding program that could help reduce the risk of S-T-E-C. One study is looking at the role of cull beef cows in contributing this organism to the food supply. Dr. Smith said they are sampling the hides of cattle as they arrive to the abattoir, also known as a packing plant. The other study is looking at the role of dietary components. Smith said this is looking at different rations and how that effects cattle shedding the bacteria.
“We already know that cattle that are fed that are forages are more likely to shed 0157 than from corn based diets,” Smith said. “But when we take corn out and replace it with ethanol byproduct feeds, we increase the risk that cattle shed the organism."
Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays featured Dr. Smith on the Beef Buzz feature. Click or tap on the LISTEN BAR below to listen to today's Beef Buzz.
This audio was provided by Kansas State University. AGRICULTURE TODAY is a daily program hosted by Eric Atkinson and distributed to radio stations throughout the state.
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