U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version


Document Type



Published in Meat Science 86 (2010) 32–37. DOI:10.1016/j.meatsci.2010.04.019


Beef carcass contamination is a direct result of pathogen transfer from cattle hides harboring organisms such as enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli. Hide contamination occurs from direct and indirect fecal contamination in cattle production and lairage environments. In each of these environments, individual animals shedding E. coli O157:H7 at high levels (>104 CFU/g of feces, hereafter referred to as “super shedders”) can have a disproportionate effect on cattle hide and subsequent carcass contamination. It is not known what criteria must be met to cause an animal to shed at levels exceeding 104 CFU/g. Understanding the factors that play a role in super shedding will aid in minimizing or eliminating the super shedding population. Interventions that would prevent supershedding in the cattle population should reduce E. coli O157:H7 transmission in the production and lairage environments resulting in reduced risk of beef carcass contamination and a safer finished product.