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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Knutson, Haley
item Carr, Mandy
item Branham, Loree
item Scott, Cody
item Callaway, Todd

Submitted to: Small Ruminant Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/12/2005
Publication Date: 8/1/2006
Citation: Knutson, H.J., Carr, M.A., Branham, L.A., Scott, C.B., Callaway, T.R. 2006. Effects of activated charcoal on binding E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella typhimurium in sheep. Small Ruminant Research. 65:101-105.

Interpretive Summary: Food-borne pathogens cost the American economy more than $7 billion each year. If we can reduce the transmission of pathogens to humans, we can decrease this burden on our economy. Some food-borne pathogens can live in the gut of food animals and be transmitted to human consumers. Activated charcoal is a product that has been shown to bind bacteria and toxins in many environments, including the gastrointestinal tract of animals and humans. Activated charcoal has been shown to bind pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella spp. in the laboratory in conditions simulating the animal gastrointestinal tract. When bacteria are bound to a non-reactive surface they are sequestered away from their colonization sites, thus inactivating them. In the present study, activated charcoal was fed to live sheep; however, in vivo these pathogenic bacteria were not bound by activated charcoal. Thus it does not appear that activated charcoal can be used to clear pathogens from the gastrointestinal tract of food animals prior to slaughter.

Technical Abstract: Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7 and Salmonella typhimurium have been implicated in food borne illness caused by contaminated milk and meat products. Activated charcoal (AC) was used to adsorb E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella typhimurium in the sheep gastrointestinal tract. Ewes were infected with either E. coli O157:H7 or Salmonella typhimurium and were dosed with 10mg/ml AC slurry. AC had no effect on binding either organism in the rumen, cecum, and rectum. .

Last Modified: 07/26/2017
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