Improving E. Coli Tracking

Dan Cattle, This Land of Ours, USDA-ARS

Working toward better traceability during foodborne illness outbreaks. That’s coming up on This Land of Ours.

E. coli

The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, or ARS, is working to improve traceability during foodborne illness outbreaks. Scientists want to enhance the capacity of regulatory agencies to trace E. coli back to its source by studying how the DNA of a specific population of this bacterium gradually evolves within its natural environment.

The E. coli bacteria is found in the intestines of cattle, so researchers collected samples at their closed feedlot in Nebraska from 1997 to 2019. The USMARC feedlot has been closed to any introduction of cattle, except those raised in the Center. This means that the E. coli strains have not been influenced by cattle from other locations for 23 years and allows researchers to focus on changes in the bacteria genomes as they evolved over those years. They say results from this and future studies will continue to build information for rapid, more accurate traceback responses during outbreak investigations.

I’m Sabrina Halvorson for the Southeast AgNet.

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Improving E. Coli Tracking

Sabrina Halvorson
National Correspondent / AgNet Media, Inc.

Sabrina Halvorson is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and public speaker who specializes in agriculture. She primarily reports on legislative issues and hosts The AgNet Weekly podcast. Sabrina is a native of California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley.