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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: CONTROL OF PATHOGENIC AND SPOILAGE BACTERIA ON RED MEAT

Location: Meat Safety & Quality Research

Title: Transportation and lairage environment effects on prevalence, numbers, and diversity of Escherichia coli O157:H7 on hides and carcasses of beef cattle at processing

Authors
item Arthur, Terrance
item Bosilevac, Joseph
item Harhay, Dayna
item Guerini, Michael
item Kalchayanand, Norasak
item Shackelford, Steven
item Wheeler, Tommy
item Koohmaraie, Mohammad

Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 17, 2006
Publication Date: February 1, 2007
Citation: Arthur, T.M., Bosilevac, J.M., Harhay, D.M., Guerini, M.N., Kalchayanand, N., Shackelford, S.D., Wheeler, T.L., Koohmaraie, M. 2007. Transportation and lairage environment effects on prevalence, numbers, and diversity of Escherichia coli O157:H7 on hides and carcasses of beef cattle at processing. Journal of Food Protection 70(2):280-286.

Interpretive Summary: Cattle hides have been established as the main source of carcass contamination during beef processing, therefore, it is crucial to minimize the amount of E. coli O157:H7 on cattle hides prior to harvest. There are several potential sources of E. coli O157:H7 encountered in the transportation of cattle to beef processing facilities and in the holding pens at the beef processing facilities that could increase the levels of E. coli O157:H7 on the hides of cattle. On three separate occasions cattle were sampled at a feedlot, transported to a processing plant, and sampled again inside the processing plant. The frequency of finding E. coli O157:H7 on hides increased from 50.3% to 94.4%, between loading onto trucks at the feedlot and entering the processing plant. Overall, only 29% of the E. coli O157:H7 isolates collected from animals at the processing facility were found to match the genetic types collected prior to transport. The results of this study demonstrate that transport to and lairage at processing plants can lead to increases in the prevalence and levels of E. coli O157:H7 contamination on hides. Thus, effective preharvest interventions to remove E. coli O157:H7 from the gut and hides of cattle may be negated by the time they entered the processing plant. More study is needed to confirm the mechanism by which new E. coli O157:H7 genotypes contaminate cattle hides during transport and lairage and to design antimicrobial interventions to prevent it from occurring.

Technical Abstract: Hide has been established as the main source of carcass contamination during processing, therefore, it is crucial to minimize the amount of Escherichia coli O157:H7 on cattle hides prior to slaughter. There are several potential sources of E. coli O157:H7 encountered in the transportation to and lairage at beef processing facilities that could increase the prevalence and levels of E. coli O157:H7 on the hides of cattle. On three separate occasions cattle were sampled at the feedlot, transported to a processing plant, and sampled again after they were stunned and exsanguinated (n = 286 total). The prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 on hides increased from 50.3% to 94.4%, between loading onto tractor-trailers at the feedlot and entering the processing plant. Prior to transport, nine animals were found to have E. coli O157:H7 at high concentrations (> 0.4 CFU/cm2) on their hides. When sampled at the slaughter facility, the number of animals with high hide concentrations of E. coli O157:H7 had increased to 70. Overall, only 29% (221 of 764) of the E. coli O157:H7 isolates collected post-harvest were found to match pulsed field gel electrophoresis types collected prior to transport. The results of this study demonstrate that transport to and lairage at processing plants can lead to increases in the prevalence and levels of E. coli O157:H7 contamination on hides and the number of E. coli O157:H7 pulsed field gel electrophoresis types associated with the animals. More study is needed to confirm the mechanism by which new E. coli O157:H7 genotypes contaminate cattle hides during transport and lairage and to design antimicrobial interventions to prevent it from occurring.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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