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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: PATHOGEN MITIGATION IN LIVESTOCK AND RED MEAT PRODUCTION

Location: Meat Safety & Quality Research

Title: Characterization of escherichia coli O157:H7 strains from contaminated raw beef trim during “high event periods”

Authors
item Arthur, Terrance
item Bono, James
item Kalchayanand, Norasak

Submitted to: Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 31, 2013
Publication Date: January 2, 2014
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/58352
Citation: Arthur, T.M., Bono, J.L., Kalchayanand, N. 2014. Characterization of escherichia coli O157:H7 strains from contaminated raw beef trim during “high event periods”. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 80(2):506-514.

Interpretive Summary: The development and implementation of effective antimicrobial interventions by the beef processing industry in the United States has dramatically reduced the incidence of beef trim contamination by Escherichia coli O157:H7. However, individual processing plants still experience sporadic peaks in contamination rates where multiple contamination of finished product clustered in a short time frame. These peaks have been referred to as “High Event Periods” (HEP) of contamination. The results reported here detail the characterization of E. coli O157:H7 isolates from twenty-one HEP across multiple companies and processing plants to gain insight regarding the mechanisms causing these incidents. Through these analyses, it was determined that individual HEP show little to no diversity of strain type. Hence, each HEP has one strain type that makes up most if not all of the contamination. This is shown to differ from the high strain diversity of incoming pathogen load found on the hides of cattle entering processing plants which is assumed to be the source of carcass contamination. Results of this study pose a potential challenge to the current model for finished product contamination during beef processing.

Technical Abstract: The development and implementation of effective antimicrobial interventions by the beef processing industry in the United States have dramatically reduced the incidence of beef trim contamination by Escherichia coli O157:H7. However, individual processing plants still experience sporadic peaks in contamination rates where multiple E. coli O157:H7-positive lots are clustered in a short time frame. These peaks have been referred to as “high event periods” (HEP) of contamination. The results reported here detail the characterization of E. coli O157:H7 isolates from 21 HEP across multiple companies and processing plants to gain insight regarding the mechanisms causing these incidents. Strain genotypes were determined by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, and isolates were investigated for characteristics linking them to human illness. Through these analyses, it was determined that individual HEP show little to no diversity in strain genotypes. Hence, each HEP has one strain type that makes up most, if not all, of the contamination. This is shown to differ from the genotypic diversity of E. coli O157:H7 found on the hides of cattle entering processing plants. In addition, it was found that a large proportion (81%) of HEP are caused by strain types associated with human illness. These results pose a potential challenge to the current model for finished product contamination during beef processing.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
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