Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

December 2005


Published for the Proceedings, The Range Beef Cow Symposium XIX December 6, 7 and 8, 2005, Rapid City, South Dakota.


We likely have the safest food in history. So why the concern about food safety? Why did NCBA have an E. coli Summit in 2003 and a Beef Safety Summit in 2005? The obvious answer is that it is an important issue for the Beef Cattle Industry. Meat and Poultry magazine estimated that E. coli O157:H7 cost the Cattle Industry about $2.7 billion from 1993 to 2003. From a local standpoint, we witnessed the bankruptcies of Hudson Foods and Beef America, two important beef processors in Nebraska. E. coli O157:H7 causes illness in less than .00002% of the meals eaten in the U. S. and fewer than 61 deaths annually. Statistically those numbers are very small, but if it is my grandchild, one is too many (every child has a grandparent like me). We want to share our experiences with E. coli O157:H7 over the past seven years because this is the primary food-borne pathogen concerning us at the present time.