Cargill encouraged by results from beef cattle vaccine trial

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cargill announced encouraging preliminary results from its 2010 E. coli O157:H7 vaccine trial involving 85,000 head of beef cattle. Initial results are based upon sampling both cattle at feedlots and meat at the company's Fort Morgan, Colo., beef processing facility where vaccinated cattle were harvested from May through August.

According to Dan Schaefer, Cargill assistant vice president for beef research and development, there are numerous factors that influence the potential effectiveness of vaccine for reducing naturally, randomly occurring E. coli O157:H7 in beef cattle, including weather, geography, seasonality, animal and herd care and management, vaccine dosage and others, which creates a challenge in replicating the prior trial.

Additionally, Cargill noted a low level of E. coli O157:H7 in the beef being produced at Fort Morgan from the non-vaccinated (control group) cattle during the time vaccinated cattle were being harvested, which could potentially influence the significance of the data currently being analysed by independent researchers. Researchers are trying to better understand the meaning and value of the reduction in E. coli O157:H7 in beef from the vaccinated animals, compared with beef from those that did not receive the vaccine. This vaccine trial was the first pre-harvest intervention trial completed that monitored activity from the time of vaccination through measurements in meat.

The $1 million 2010 trial involved the entire cattle supply from 10 feedlots being vaccinated and dedicated to Cargill for harvesting at Fort Morgan. Of the 85,000, nearly 60,000 head of cattle received two doses of the vaccine produced by Wilmar, Minn., based Epitopix LLC, one dose upon arrival at the feedlot and one dose approximately 90 days prior to harvesting. The remaining cattle received a single dose and served as buffers prior to and following those cycling through the feedlots that received two doses. By providing buffers, Cargill established the scientific controls required to test the effect of whole feedlot vaccination under commercial conditions.
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