Originally created 08/31/97

Georgia researchers block E. coli in beef



GRIFFIN, Ga. - University of Georgia food scientists are developing a way of fighting E. coli bacteria contamination by blocking it in the intestines of live cattle through their food.

By adding cultures of 18 beneficial bacteria to cattle feed, researchers at the university's food safety center in Griffin say they have eliminated E. coli from the digestive tracts of test animals.

Preventing the spread of the disease-causing bacteria in fecal matter before the animals reach the packing plant could head off the kind of crisis that prompted the recall of 25 million pounds of hamburger meat from a Nebraska plant.

A similar approach by a U.S. Department of Agriculture lab in Athens, called "competitive exclusion," is being reviewed as a means of battling salmonella in chickens.

Doyle said that although the process has promise for beef, it is not ready for commercial use. The process still must be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and developed as a commercial product. The lab has just applied for a patent on the process.