story to find out more.
While acting research
leader Tommy Wheeler records a cow's identification number, food technologist
Steven Shackelford uses a moist sponge to obtain a microbe sample from the
cow's hide. After the cow's hide was sampled, the sponge (right) has been
coated with a representative sample of the contaminants on the animal's hide,
including hair, soil, feces and microorganisms. Click the images for more
information about them.
Hide-Washing Improves Beef Safety
McGinnis October 4, 2006
A practical, effective cattle-washing system that reduces levels of
pathogens on cattle hideslessening the likelihood that the pathogens will
get onto the meat and be consumed by humanshas been developed by
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
scientists in Clay Center, Neb.
The system could help reduce pathogens such as Escherichia coli
O157:H7, which causes nearly 73,000 illnesses and 60 deaths every year,
according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Although E. coli O157:H7 can harm humans, cattle can carry it
without adverse effects, according to researchers at the ARS Roman L. Hruska
U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC)
in Clay Center. ARS research showed that the pathogens tend to gather on the
animals' hides, which becomes a problem if those bacteria then come into
contact with meat during hide removal.
In the hide-washing process, the hide-on carcass is cleaned in a
high-pressure water washing cabinet to remove excess organic matter, then
sprayed with an antibacterial compound. In field trials, the process
significantly reduced the number of samples that tested positive for E. coli
Koohmaraie estimates that about 40 percent of the feedlot- raised beef
cattle processed in the United States now undergo hide-on carcass-washing
treatment, a development that benefits both beef companies and consumers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's
Food Safety and Inspection Service
reported that the incidence of E. coli O157:H7-positive ground beef
samples collected fell by 43.3 percent after the beef industry began using the
washing cabinets. The CDC also noted significant reductions in illnesses caused
by E. coli and the pathogens Listeria, Campylobacter,
Yersinia and Salmonella.
about this research in the October 2006 issue of Agricultural Research
magazine, which highlights ARS food safety research.
ARS is the USDA's chief scientific