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Molecular Characterization of Escherichia coli O157:H7 Hide Contamination Routes: Feedlot to Harvest

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This study was conducted to identify the origin of Escherichia coli O157:H7 contamination on steer hides at the time of harvest. Samples were collected from the feedlot, transport trailers, and packing plant holding pens and from the colons and hides of feedlot steers. A total of 50 hide samples were positive for E. coli O157:H7 in two geographical locations: the Midwest (25 positive hides) and Southwest (25 positive hides). Hide samples were screened, and the presence of E. coli O157:H7 was confirmed. E. coli O157:H7 isolates were fingerprinted by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and subjected to multiplex PCR procedures for amplification of E. coli O157:H7 genes stx 1, stx 2, eaeA, fliC, rfbE O157, and hlyA. Feedlot water trough, pen floor, feed bunk, loading chute, truck trailer side wall and floor, packing plant holding pen floor and side rail, and packing plant cattle drinking water samples were positive for E. coli O157:H7. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis banding patterns were analyzed after classifying isolates according to the marker genes present and according to packing plant. In this study, hide samples positive for E. coli O157:H7 were traced to other E. coli O157:H7–positive hide, colon, feedlot pen floor fecal, packing plant holding pen drinking water, and transport trailer side wall samples. Links were found between packing plant side rails, feedlot loading chutes, and feedlot pens and between truck trailer, different feedlots, and colons of multiple cattle. This study is the first in which genotypic matches have been made between E. coli O157:H7 isolates obtained from transport trailer side walls and those from cattle hide samples within the packing plant.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Smithfield Beef Group, 2580 University, Green Bay, Wisconsin 54305-3000 2: Center for Red Meat Safety, Department of Animal Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1171 3: Food Safety Net Services, 221 West Rhapsody, San Antonio, Texas 78216, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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