Beef cattle appear to provide a reservoir for this bacteria and excrete the bacteria in feces. If intervention strategies can be implemented at the farm level thereby leading to less O157:H7 entering the food chain, then food safety will be improved for consumers. Producers are willing to implement practices that are scientifically valid and easily adopted today to help solve this important food safety concern. The objectives of this proposal are to field test two intervention strategies in commercial operations and develop an extension program to disseminate information on intervention strategies to producers.
Escherichia coli O157:H7 can cause serious illness in humans. Beef cattle appear to provide a reservoir for this bacteria and excrete the bacteria in feces. The purpose of this study is to test two intervention strategies in commercial feedyards to decrease E. coli O157:H7 shedding by cattle to improve the safety of beef. Secondly, to implement an education program for producer adoption of effective strategies that reduce E. coli O157:H7.
Treatments that will be evaluated are designed as a 2x2 factorial with factors including vaccination (V) or feeding a competitive exclusion (CE) product. The four treatments include: control (no V or CE), V alone, CE alone, or combination of V and CE. While both of these treatments have been tested and proven worthwhile in a controlled, research setting, they have not been evaluated in commercial operations. To test these strategies, we propose using five cooperator operations where we have been monitoring the incidence of E. coli O157:H7. Based on previous studies, a mechanism to test entire pens was established using ropes strategically placed in pens over one night. During that time, the ropes are inoculated with E. coli O157:H7 if cattle are positive in the pen. Cattle will chew on these ropes and inoculate the rope for eventual isolation and detection in our laboratory. The team has experience isolating this bacteria and collaborating for the past five years to determine the incidence of E. coli O157:H7 in beef operations and to evaluate methods to lower the incidence in beef operations. Based on our experiences working with beef producers and consultants, we propose transferring information via numerous outlets. We host two large extension meetings each year, and we propose to add two other meetings in year 3 to help producers understand this issue and what intervention strategies will work for them in their operations.
This study will help the cattle industry make decisions about the effectiveness of using these interventions to reduce E. coli O157:H7 in live cattle.