Determining the prevalence of Escherichia coli O157 in cattle and beef from the feedlot to the cooler

D. R. Woerner, J. R. Ransom, J. N. Sofos, G. A. Dewell, G. C. Smith, M. D. Salman, K. E. Belk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Prevalence of Escherichia coli O157 on cattle entering the slaughter floor may range from 10 to >70%. This study was conducted to determine the effect of E. coli O157 prevalence in fecal pats collected from feedlot pen floors on subsequent E. coli O157 prevalence on carcasses at various points in the slaughter process. Fecal pats from the feedlot pen floor were collected within 3 days before slaughter. During cattle processing at the slaughter facility, additional samples were collected from the hide, from the colon, and from the carcasses before and after evisceration and after final decontamination. Of 15 lots (a group of cattle from the same pen from a feedlot) sampled, 87% had at least one positive fecal pat from the feedlot floor, 47% had a positive hide sample, 73% had a positive colon/fecal sample, and 47% had a positive carcass sample preevisceration; however, only 8% of lots had a positive carcass sample postevisceration or after final intervention. Of the total samples tested (n = 1,328), 24.7, 14.7, 27.6, 10.1, 1.4, and 0.3% of fecal pats from the feedlot floor, hide, colon, preevisceration, post-evisceration, and final intervention samples, respectively, were positive for E. coli O157. Pens with greater than 20% positive fecal pats from the feedlot floor had 25.5% hide, 51.4% colon, and 14.3, 2.9, and 0.7% carcass samples positive at preevisceration, at postevisceration, and after final intervention, respectively. However, fecal pats from feedlot floor samples that contained less than 20% positive fecal samples showed lower pathogen prevalence, with 5.0% hide, 7.5% colon, and 6.3, 0, and 0% carcass positive samples at preevisceration, postevisceration, and post-final intervention, respectively. Data from this study can be used as part of risk assessment processes in order to identify mitigation strategies to minimize prevalence of E. coli O157 on fresh beef carcasses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2824-2827
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of food protection
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2006


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