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Practical cattle-washing and vaccines reduce health risks

Agriculture.com Staff 03/21/2007 @ 1:30pm

Each year, the pathogen E. coli 0157:H7 is to blame for 73,000 human illnesses and 60 deaths. E. coli can gather on cattle hides, which becomes a problem if meat is contaminated during hide removal. Now scientists at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) in Clay Center, Nebraska, have developed a practical, effective cattle-washing system to reduce on-hide pathogen levels.

In the system, live cattle are subjected to a water wash and two applications of a chemical compound. The hide-on carcass is cleaned in a high-pressure water washing cabinet to remove excess organic matter, then sprayed with an antibacterial compound. The results show that meat samples testing positive for E. coli 0157:H7 are reduced from 23% to 3%.

The USMARC scientists collaborated with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and other industry partners to develop and transfer this technology. About 40% of the feedlot-raised beef harvested in the U.S. undergo this washing treatment, a development that benefits both beef companies and consumers, says USMARC director Mohammad Koohmaraie.

For more information contact the ARS Information Staff by writing to 5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Beltsville, MD 20705-5128 or calling 301/504-1638. You can also visit them on the Web at www.ars.usda.gov/is.

Each year, the pathogen E. coli 0157:H7 is to blame for 73,000 human illnesses and 60 deaths. E. coli can gather on cattle hides, which becomes a problem if meat is contaminated during hide removal. Now scientists at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) in Clay Center, Nebraska, have developed a practical, effective cattle-washing system to reduce on-hide pathogen levels.

A Canadian company has received approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to sell a vaccine that helps keep E. coli 0157:H7 out of food and water supplies.

You're leaving money on the table if you sell feeder calves without an identification tag or system that verifies their age, source, and health procedures. How much? Maybe $25 to $30 a head for 500-pound calves.

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