Peri- and postharvest factors in the control of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli in beef

Rodney A. Moxley, Gary R. Acuff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Certain Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains are important causes of food-borne disease, with hemorrhagic colitis and, in some cases, hemolytic-uremic syndrome as the clinical manifestations of illness. Six serogroups and one serotype of STEC (O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, O145, and O157:H7) are responsible for the vast majority of cases in the United States. Based on recent data for all food commodities combined, 55.3% and 50.0% of the outbreaks of STEC O157 and non-O157 in the United States, respectively, are attributable to beef as a food source. Consequently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service declared these organisms as adulterants in raw, nonintact beef. In North America, cattle are a major reservoir of STEC strains, with organisms shed in the feces and contaminated hides of the animals being the main vehicle for spread to carcasses at slaughter. A number of peri- and postharvest interventions targeting STEC have been developed, and significant progress has been made in improving the microbiological quality of beef in the past 20 years as a result. However, continued improvements are needed, and accurate assessment of these interventions, especially for non-O157 STEC, would greatly benefit from improvements in detection methods for these organisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberEHEC-0017-2013
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Ecology
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Infectious Diseases


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