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New AMI Foundation Research Identifies Probiotic that Can Reduce E. Coli O157:H7 in Live Cattle by 50 Percent

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Washington, DC - A new feed ingredient that contains probiotics or so-called "good bacteria" can reduce the presence of E. coli O157:H7 in live cattle by as much as 50 percent, according to research released today by the American Meat Institute (AMI) Foundation. The research was done by Mindy Brashears, Ph.D., and Michael Galyean, Ph.D., of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX.

Brashears and Galyean fed 180 steers one of three diets: a standard diet of grain and roughage, which served as the control group, or a standard diet that also included one of two strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus, much like the bacteria commonly added to yogurt.

The researchers analyzed fecal samples from the cattle when they arrived at Texas Tech University and every 28 days thereafter until they received probiotic supplementation. After a 60-day supplementation period began, samples were analyzed every 14 days. Researchers used USDA test methods - considered the most sensitive available -- to detect the presence of E. coli O157:H7.

Researchers conducted the study during the Summer months, when cattle are known to shed more E. coli O157:H7. The numbers of cattle testing positive for E. coli O157:H7 varied from 18 to 19 percent during the mid-feeding period to less than 10 percent near slaughter. The cattle fed the probiotics, however, showed major reductions in incidence rates. The group of cattle fed one particular strain known as NPC 750 saw a 50 percent drop in the incidence of E. coli O157:H7.

In addition to reducing this pathogen, the probiotic is extremely cost-effective. The researchers estimate the cost of feed supplementation at roughly one cent per animal per day. The low costs are offset by improvements in feed conversion.

"Our research affirms the benefits of probiotics in preventing E. coli O157:H7 in cattle," Brashears said. "In the same way that acidophilus in dairy products has health benefits for humans, this particular strain of Lactobacillus acidophilus clearly reduces the incidence of pathogenic bacteria in the gut of animals."

Brashears\x{2019} findings confirm data from preliminary trials. Further confirmatory research studies are underway, which if successful will lead to commercial field trials. These field trials are aimed at affirming the benefits of this particular strain of Lactobacillus acidophilus.
AMI Foundation Vice President of Scientific Affairs Randall Huffman, Ph.D., stressed the commitment of the U.S. meat industry to enhancing the safety of beef products. "Safety starts on the farm and ends at the table," Huffman said. "We believe it is important to take a broad view to achieve our goal to reduce and eliminate E. coli O157:H7 in beef."

Huffman said new technology developed over the last decade has helped achieve major reductions in bacteria on raw meat products, but still does not permit a pathogen free meat supply. The AMI Foundation, he said, supports a "multi-hurdle" strategy throughout the production process. By using a combination of on-farm interventions like probiotics in cattle feed, careful in-plant processing techniques designed to destroy bacteria, careful temperature control throughout distribution and thorough cooking in restaurants and home kitchens, producers, processors, retailers, restaurants and consumers together can ensure the safest possible beef supply.

"This new research is another tool in the food safety toolbox that can help make the U.S. beef supply - already among the safest in the world - even safer," Huffman said.

The research is part of a comprehensive Food Safety Initiative funded by U.S. meat and poultry companies and administered by the AMI Foundation. The initiative's goal is to reduce and ultimately eliminate E. coli O157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes on meat and poultry products.

To view the report in a PDF file, visit http://www.amif.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/7368.
To view the research in its entirety, visit the AMI Foundation web site at http://www.amif.org. The probiotics used in the study are available from Nutrition Physiology Corporation. Brashears and Huffman will be available to news media to answer any questions via teleconference April 24 at 11 a.m. EST. To access the teleconference, dial 1-800-860-2442.

AMI represents the interests of packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal and turkey products and their suppliers throughout North America. Together, AMI's members produce 95 percent of the beef, pork, lamb and veal products and 70 percent of the turkey products in the U.S. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute provides legislative, regulatory, public relations, technical, scientific and educational services to the industry. Its affiliate, the AMI Foundation, is a separate 501(c)3 organization that conducts research, education and information projects for the industry.

For more information contact:
Janet Riley
Vice President, Public Affairs
Josee Daoust
Manager, Public Affairs

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