WILLMAR, MINN. — Federal regulators have conditionally approved the sale of a vaccine designed to reduce E. coli O157 in cattle, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Officials from Epitopix claim theirs is the first animal vaccine in the United States targeted against E. coli O157 bacteria and according to the report, the start-up company has been granted conditional license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to start selling the vaccine to cattle producers and beef processors. Under a conditional license, a company can market the product but the USDA still requires additional safety and efficacy tests.

The vaccine is designed to reduce pathogens associated with E. coli O157 in the intestines of cattle, helping to prevent the deadly bacteria from contaminating human food. The vaccine reduced the number of cattle testing positive for the bacteria by 85%, according to field studies conducted by Epitopix and reviewed by the USDA. The vaccine eliminated 99% of the bacteria in animals that tested positive for E. coli.

"Those are impressive numbers," Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia's Center for Food Safety, was quoted as saying in the Tribune story. "That would be a beneficial treatment for meat producers. We need treatments like this."

In 2006, Bioniche Life Sciences in Canada introduced the world's first vaccine against E. coli 0157 in cattle, but it has not yet received approval in the United States.

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