Antimicrobial-resistant Salmonella that can compromise the safety of fresh beef is the target of research being funded by the Beef Checkoff and the Texas Beef Council. An update on the work, by the Texas A&M University Department of Animal Science, was recently presented in Dallas at the 2015 Beef Industry Safety Summit. The A&M AgriLife Research project, led by scientists Matt Taylor and Jason Gill, is focused on Salmonella in feedlots and the potential for pre-harvest interventions that can take advantage of bacteriophages, or phages with viruses that might be turned as predators on the bacteria. The project has seen the scientists identifying and recovering Salmonella servers from feedlot environmental samples and then recovering different types of phages from the samples. Samples are being recovered from South Texas feedlots, where the scientists previously determined different Salmonella serotypes. The research was published in the Journal of Food Protection. The Taylor-Gill team recovered no detectable Salmonella from superficial cervical lymph nodes from cattle in one feedlot, while finding 100-percent positive Salmonella detection from cervical lymph nodes in cattle at a second feedlot. Taylor says the “dramatic differences” caused the team to questions the factors causing the differing findings as both feedlots were in the same geographic area. Gill says phages might be actively surprising the indigenous Salmonella in the first feedlot. The current research is involved in sample collections including feces, feed, drinking water and soil from the various animal pens. The Beef Checkoff, a $1-per-head assessment on the sale of all cattle, and the Texas Beef Council (TBC) is funding the research. Beef Checkoff funds are used for both marketing and research, including food safety research.
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