Meat science and muscle biology symposium: Escherichia coli o157:H7, diet, and fecal microbiome in beef cattle

J. E. Wells, M. Kim, J. L. Bono, L. A. Kuehn, A. K. Benson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli, such as E. coli O157:H7, are foodborne zoonotic pathogens that can cause severe illness and death in humans. The gastrointestinal tract of ruminant animals has been identified as a primary habitat for E. coli O157:H7 and, in cattle, the hindgut tract appears to be a primary site for colonization. This pathogen has been found in cattle feces, on cattle hides, and in the production environment, and transmission to humans has occurred as a result of consumption of contaminated ground beef, water, and produce. Interventions to reduce the pathogen at beef harvest have significantly reduced the occurrence of the pathogen, but outbreaks and recalls due to the pathogen still occur for beef products. Interventions in the feedyard before harvest have had little success, but critical control points for implementing interventions are limited compared with the beef abattoir. The percentage of animals shedding E. coli O157:H7 in the feces can be highly variable from pen to pen, and the levels in the feces can vary from animal to animal. Animals colonized and shedding E. coli O157:H7 at high levels are a small fraction of animals in a pen but are important source for transferring the pathogen amongst the penmates. Recent research has indicated that diet may greatly influence the shedding of E. coli O157:H7. In addition, diet can influence the microbiota composition of the feces. However, little is known about the interaction between the indigenous microbiota and fecal shedding of E. coli O157:H7. Understanding the influence of indigenous microbiota on the colonization and shedding of E. coli O157:H7 will provide a potential avenue for intervention in the preharvest production environment not yet exploited.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1345-1355
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Bovine feces
  • Ecology
  • Escherichia coli o157:h7

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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