<OL><LI>Determine the extent to which lairage adds to E. coli O157:H7 prevalence and load on cattle hides. <LI>Identify sources of E. coli O157:H7 in the lairage environment.<LI>Work with the beef processing industry to identify and test intervention strategies targeted to the lairage environment that will reduce the transfer of E. coli O157:H7 associated with this segment of the production chain.
Approach: Phase 1 Multiple lots of cattle (n = 500) will be followed from the USMARC feedlot to slaughter. Before loading, six sponge samples will be collected from the inside of each trailer. As the cattle are being loaded onto the trucks, hide and fecal samples will be collected. Prior to the arrival of the cattle to the slaughter facility, the pens (floors and rails), snake, restrainer, and water troughs will be screened by sponge sampling for E. coli O157:H7. Hide and pre-evisceration carcass samples will be collected from each test animal in the processing plant. Prevalence, enumeration, and PFGE tracking will be conducted for E. coli O157:H7 on all samples. <P>Phase 2 We will work with the beef processing industry to develop and test the most feasible and useable intervention strategies to reduce transfer of E. coli O157:H7 to cattle hides in the lairage environment.