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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Mar 28;97(7):2999-3003.

Correlation of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157 prevalence in feces, hides, and carcasses of beef cattle during processing.

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United States Meat Animal Research Center, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Clay Center, NE 68933, USA.


A survey was performed to estimate the frequency of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 or O157:nonmotile (EHEC O157) in feces and on hides within groups of fed cattle from single sources (lots) presented for slaughter at meat processing plants in the Midwestern United States, as well as frequency of carcass contamination during processing from cattle within the same lots. Of 29 lots sampled, 72% had at least one EHEC O157-positive fecal sample and 38% had positive hide samples. Overall, EHEC O157 prevalence in feces and on hides was 28% (91 of 327) and 11% (38 of 355), respectively. Carcass samples were taken at three points during processing: preevisceration, postevisceration before antimicrobial intervention, and postprocessing after carcasses entered the cooler. Of 30 lots sampled, 87% had at least one EHEC O157-positive preevisceration sample, 57% of lots were positive postevisceration, and 17% had positive postprocessing samples. Prevalence of EHEC O157 in the three postprocessing samples was 43% (148 of 341), 18% (59 of 332) and 2% (6 of 330), respectively. Reduction in carcass prevalence from preevisceration to postprocessing suggests that sanitary procedures were effective within the processing plants. Fecal and hide prevalence were significantly correlated with carcass contamination (P = 0.001), indicating a role for control of EHEC O157 in live cattle.

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