An official website of the United States government.

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Supplementation of Feedlot Cattle with Octanoic Acid for Three Days Pre-Harvest to Reduce Risk of Contamination with Escherichia coli O157:H7

Belk, Keith
Colorado State University
Start date
End date
The reduction of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella spp. in both pre- and post-harvest areas continues to be a major goal of the beef industry. It has been demonstrated that cattle hides are the major source of contamination in processing plants.

The reduction of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella spp. on cattle hides will go a long way in ensuring the safety of the beef supply. Researchers and beef packers/processors have addressed beef 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; � 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.

The most commonly used decontamination strategies involve the use of water and steam at various temperatures and spray pressures. Other decontamination strategies involve the use of FDA-approved chemicals applied through water-based sprays. This study focuses on the use of a feed supplement that could decrease the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 in cattle feces. This would decrease the pathogen load of cattle coming into the processing facility and have a positive effect on further interventions. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of Octanoic acid as a pre-harvest feed supplement to decrease the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 in cattle.

More information
Findings: In a recent study, octanoic acid supplemented at 0.7% was evaluated as a pre-harvest food safety intervention to reduce the carriage of E. coli O157:H7 in the gastrointestinal tract of cattle. Two trials were conducted. The first trial was conducted using commercial feedlot cattle in Colorado. Prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 was very low and, therefore, an inoculation trial was completed at Montana State University. Results from this study indicated that a mixture of octanoic acid and ground corn administered as a �top-dressing� was not effective at reducing E. coli O157:H7 carriage in cattle. It is likely that no treatment effect was observed because the octanoic acid was metabolized and absorbed in the small intestine and, thus, had no effect on the pathogen in the large intestine where samples were collected. Further research is needed to explore methods for passage through the small intestine in order for octanoic acid to be considered as a pre-harvest food safety intervention.
Funding Source
Nat'l. Cattlemen's Beef Assoc.
Project number
Bacterial Pathogens