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Investigation of On-Farm Management Practices as Pre-Harvest Beef Microbiological Interventions

Belk, Keith; Ransom, Justin
Colorado State University
Start date
End date

Highly publicized outbreaks of food-borne illness since 1993, primarily caused by bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes, elicited intense consumer concern about meat safety. In response, regulatory authorities, researchers and the beef industry initiated efforts to implement food safety management systems that would improve microbiological quality. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) began initiating new regulatory requirements during the mid-1990s. Packers were required to knife-trim carcasses to remove all visible contaminants, comply with written sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOP), implement Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems, and meet microbiological performance criteria and standards for E. coli and Salmonella as a means to verify HACCP effectiveness and pathogen reduction.

Researchers and beef packers/processors have addressed consumer food safety concerns by developing a variety of methods that are now implemented, or are being further developed, to reduce numbers of bacteria on beef and beef products and improve microbiological safety. These microbiological decontamination technologies include:
  • Animal cleaning;
  • Chemical dehairing at slaughter;
  • >li>Spot-cleaning of carcasses by knife-trimming or steam/hot water vacuuming; and
  • Spraying/washing/rinsing of carcasses before evisceration and/or before chilling, with water, chemical solutions and/or steam or hot water.

Enhanced sensitivity tests have shown that the prevalence of E. coli 0157:H7 in live cattle and the environment is much higher in fecal and carcass samples than researchers had originally thought. The main objective of this study was to identify effective mitigation strategies that can be used by producers to reduce the carriage and shedding of E. coli O157 in market-ready feedlot cattle.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Cattlemen's Beef Assoc.
Project source
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Natural Toxins
Bacterial Pathogens
Escherichia coli