The American food supply is safe. However, the beef industry is working to improve food safety even more. To achieve new goals for reducing cases of Escherichia coli O1571, everyone in the beef industry food production chain, from producers to consumers, must work together to ensure the safest possible food supply.

“The battle against E. coli O157 is not getting any easier,” says Brad Morgan, Ph.D., food safety and production enhancement specialist, Pfizer Animal Health Veterinary Operations. “There are preharvest technologies out there that might be able to help stop some of the E. coli O157 problems before entering the next stage of food production and processing.”

From 2006 to 2008, there were, on average, 1.2 cases of laboratory-confirmed E. coli O157 infections per 100,000 people.1 However, many cases of E. coli infections may go unreported or unconfirmed as many people may not attribute a foodborne illness or don’t report it to their physician or public health official.

E. coli O157 can also contaminate other foods, like produce or even nuts. A novel technology is available for cattle, and is a strong way to help reduce the E. coli O157 bacterial burden right from the start — at the source — in cattle.

This promising tool is the Escherichia Coli Bacterial Extract vaccine* with SRP® technology, which is the only conditionally licensed product to help reduce E. coli O157 prevalence and shedding in cattle. This vaccine uses the animals’ immune system to help reduce the amount of E. coli O157 bacteria, making it the first of its kind in preharvest intervention options.

“Right now, one of the greatest opportunities is in the area of preharvest,” Morgan says. “If we can reduce E. coli 0157 at the source, in cattle, it can allow the entire beef chain to do a better job.”