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Super shedding of Escherichia coli O157:H7 by cattle and the impact on beef carcass contamination

Arthur, Terrance M., Brichta-Harhay, Dayna M., Bosilevac, Joseph M., Kalchayanand, Norasak, Shackelford, Steven D., Wheeler, Tommy L., Koohmaraie, Mohammad
Meat science 2010 v.86 no.1 pp. 32
beef cattle, cattle housing, slaughterhouses, shedding, Escherichia coli O157:H7, food pathogens, bacterial contamination, feces, hides and skins, beef carcasses, plate count, animal handling
Beef carcass contamination is a direct result of pathogen transfer from cattle hides harboring organisms such as enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli. Hide contamination occurs from direct and indirect fecal contamination in cattle production and lairage environments. In each of these environments, individual animals shedding E. coli O157:H7 at high levels (>10(4) CFU/g of feces, hereafter referred to as “super shedders”) can have a disproportionate effect on cattle hide and subsequent carcass contamination. It is not known what criteria must be met to cause an animal to shed at levels exceeding 10(4) CFU/g. Understanding the factors that play a role in super shedding will aid in minimizing or eliminating the super shedding population. Interventions that would prevent supershedding in the cattle population should reduce E. coli O157:H7 transmission in the production and lairage environments resulting in reduced risk of beef carcass contamination and a safer finished product.