CHICAGO — More than 170 people from the meat and allied industries are attending "Prevention of E. coli O157:H7 for Further Processors" in Chicago to receive updates on laws, regulations and scientific research that can help them battle this deadly pathogen. One important key covered early in the program is slaughters, packers and processors should adopt an integrated process that includes everything from working with the live animal as well as establishing validated cooking procedures in restaurants and continuing to provide consumer education on food handling and cooking.

Dr. James Marsden, Regents Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University and North American Meat Processors Association science advisor, presented the following Blueprint for Integrated Process:

  • Institute a vaccine or bacteriophage (any one of a number of viruses that infect bacteria) that can help reduce incidence of E. coli O157:H7 in live cattle.
  • Wash live cattle prior to slaughter.
  • Adopt enhanced slaughter interventions (i.e., peracetic acid and bromous acid).
  • Adopt post-chill carcass pasteurization.
  • Use technologies to reduce surface contamination on trimmings prior to grinding (i.e., high-hydrostatic pressure (HHP), ultra violet/advanced oxidation technologies.
  • Incorporate N-60 testing for trimmings destined for ground beef and finished product testing to verify process control.
  • Use interventions to reduce contamination on beef trimmings prior to grinding.
  • Use pasteurization methods on products such as HHP or electron-beam treatment.
  • Incorporate validated cooking procedures in restaurants.
  • Continue consumer education on safe food handling and cooking.

"The net effect of this integrated process is a major reduction in risk associated with E. coli O157:H7 in beef products," Dr. Marsden said.

Research needs include companies must verify the effectiveness of interventions that have been developed to control E. coli O157:H7 on STECS (shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli); identify optimum pre-harvest interventions; further develop technologies for carcass pasteurization; and further research technologies for pasteurization of raw ground beef, such as HHP.

The conference is being hosted by the North American Meat Processors Association, American Association of Meat Processors, American Meat Institute Foundation, American Meat Science Association, Chicago Midwest Meat Association, Eastern Meat Packers Association, International HACCP Alliance, National Meat Association, the Southeast Meat Association and the Southwest Meat Association. The event is being supported by the Beef Industry Food Safety Council in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service Office of Outreach, Employee Education and Training. Meat&Poultry magazine is among the media sponsors.