Research seeks link between cattle and E. coli

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Wednesday, August 31, 2011

- Neogen Corporation's GeneSeek subsidiary is participating in US Department of Agriculture-funded research to better understand the role cattle genetics may play in food contamination by the E. coli O157:H7 pathogen.

The pathogen's existence does not cause illness in cattle, but E. coli O157:H7 is a significant cause of foodborne illness in humans. Although some cows have no E. coli O157:H7 in their systems, others present a greater risk for beef contamination by shedding higher concentrations of the pathogen in their feces, researchers have shown.
 
Following James Herbert, Neogen's chairman and CEO, the researchers believe that if genetic markers for "supershedders" of E. coli O157:H7, or animals that do not carry the microorganism, can be established, genetic and breeding programs can be developed to help minimize the risk that the pathogen presents to consumers of beef products. He assumes. That since E. coli O157:H7 was first identified as a major health risk, now more than 20 years ago, risk mitigation has focused on improving the beef industry's processing practices and product testing. The researchers may now have the tools to work with the beef industry to minimize the problem at the source.

This research is being conducted by University of Nebraska-Lincoln scientists, in partnership with USDA's Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb., and Lincoln-based GeneSeek. GeneSeek will perform genotyping on the cattle genetic samples. Neogen Corporation develops and markets products targeted to food and animal safety. 
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