story to find out more.
Research leader Paula Fedorka-Cray (above, left)
and technician Lori Ayers perform antimicrobial susceptibility testing on a
plate of bacterial cultures (below). The bacteria were exposed to a range of
antimicrobial drugs used in veterinary and human medicine. On the plate of
cultures, the darker-orange wells show growth of antimicrobial-resistant
bacteria. The lighter-orange wells show no growth, meaning the bacteria were
susceptible to the antimicrobials. Click images for more information about
Food Safety: From Farm to Fork
October 23, 2006
Food safety doesn't begin at the
grocery store or in the kitchen. It begins on the farm.
Thats why the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is in its third year of a multiagency
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) effort
to routinely track the origins of certain disease-causing bacteria that can
occur in meat animal production. The program will also enhance overall
understanding of bacteria that pose food safety risks on farms and in
processing plants. ARS is the USDA's chief scientific research agency.
In 2003, ARS--along with USDA's Animal
and Plant Health Inspection Service and Food Safety and Inspection Service--began
whats called the Collaboration in Animal Health and Food Safety
Epidemiology, or CAHFSE (pronounced
"calves"), program. The goal is to find out which pathogens are
moving from the farm to the processor and then on to retail outlets, according
Fedorka-Cray. She leads the ARS
Epidemiology and Antimicrobial Resistance Research Unit in Athens, Ga.
Despite significant producer interventions, ongoing research efforts and
regular surveillance, outbreaks of foodborne illnesses continue to occur. Also,
the emergence of foodborne bacteria that are resistant to multiple
antimicrobial treatments has amplified concern.
Hogs are the first production animals to be monitored in the CAHFSE program.
A detailed sampling, testing and analytical protocol is being followed across
the country to determine the on-farm and in-plant prevalence of
Salmonella, Campylobacter, Escherichia coli and
Even though the market hog industry has shown dramatic improvement in
meeting Salmonella performances standards--by 2005, more than 90 percent
met those standards--there is still room for improvement.
Because pathogens change over time, its necessary to gather
information for a long period of time and across the production spectrum to
determine the impact that any particular change in animal health issues or
plant production will have on the characteristics of bacteria, such as their
prevalence. According to Fedorka-Cray, CAHFSE is a national system that will
meet the changing needs of the industry.
more about this and other ARS food safety research in the October 2006
issue of Agricultural Research magazine.