story to find out more.
Jeffrey Karns and animal scientist Jo Ann Van Kessel isolate Salmonella
bacteria from petri plates inoculated with fecal samples taken from dairy cows.
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Keeping Your Dairy Products Safe
Durham April 18, 2005
Is your milk safe? Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service
(ARS) have joined forces with the
Regional Dairy Quality Management Alliance (RDQMA) to make sure it is. RDQMA is
a group of state veterinarians, Extension personnel and university scientists
in 10 northeastern and mid-Atlantic states who are interested in dairy-related
In 2003, ARS began working with RDQMA to develop a set of best
management practices for dairy producers. These practices are designed to
minimize the risk of diseases caused by microbial pathogens in dairy cows and
dairy products, and assure the maximum safety of the products as they leave the
The collaborative research team consists of the ARS
Microbial Safety Laboratory in Beltsville, Md.; the ARS Antimicrobial
Research Laboratory in Athens, Ga.; Cornell
University, Pennsylvania State
University, the University of
Pennsylvania and University of Vermont.
A pilot project, begun in January 2004, originally involved a 300-cow
herd in New York and a 100-cow herd in Pennsylvania. A third herd in Vermont
was recently added. The researchers collect biological samples from the herds,
such as blood, manure and bulk tank milk, as well as environmental samples,
such as bird droppings, water, feed and soil. The samples are distributed to
university and ARS researchers who test them for the presence of pathogens such
as Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes and
One sampling at one of the test farms revealed that although 45
percent of the cows tested positive for Salmonella, no Salmonella
was actually detected in the bulk tank milk, according to ARS microbiologist
Karns at Beltsville. Molecular genetic techniques are used to detect
particular strains of Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli.
This type of analysis helps differentiate between those that are harmful to
humans and those that are not.
about the research in the April 2005 issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.