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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Cargill E. coli vaccine likely means we won’t be spending time together anymore

Cargill_colour_white_on_black_op_800x457.jpgOver the years, I have had several cases against Cargill Meat Solutions. I think perhaps my last one – Smith v. Cargill – may well be my last. 

According to press reports, Cargill Meat Solutions is working to see if a vaccine against E. coli will reduce the number of bacteria, which arrive with cattle – and the preliminary results may be promising. Last Monday, Cargill announced encouraging preliminary results from its 2010 E. coli O157:H7 vaccine trial involving 85,000 head of beef cattle. The $1 million 2010 trial involved the entire cattle supply from 10 feedlots being vaccinated and dedicated to Cargill for harvesting at Fort Morgan. Of the 85,000, nearly 60,000 head of cattle received two doses of the vaccine produced by Wilmar, Minn., based Epitopix LLC, one dose upon arrival at the feedlot and one dose approximately 90 days prior to harvesting.  As Cargill said:

“We believe people have the right to expect safe food, and while additional research is required to better understand vaccine’s potential value in controlling E. coli O157:H7 from farm and feedlot to consumers, we’re committed to that pursuit. We continuously strive to provide the safest food possible, every serving, every time. Doing so is critical to the continued success of our business.”

Good job Cargill.

  • Kris

    I don’t understand this at all. Cargill is creating a vaccine to eliminate e. coli 0157:H7, which is caused by the acidic environment in the cow’s stomach, which is caused by feeding the cows corn (which is not a natural food for the cow). According to Robert Kenner’s documentary, Food, Inc., if you feed a cow grass for 5 days, it sheds 80 percent (if I remember the number correctly) of the e. coli in its gut. How about we go back to feeding cows grass and forget all these technological “fixes”? Let’s look for ways to raise our food in a healthy, sustainable environment.

  • I know the folks at Food Inc well. The whole grain v grass fed is way to simplistic. I did a buch of reading on the topic – see this link and articles:

  • Carl Custer

    Hoorah for Cargill . . . but . . . will the vaccine work against non-O157 STEC?

  • cattleman

    Numerous studies (Sargent, 2000; Grauke 2003, Reinstein 2009; Purdue 2010; and half a dozen others) show ecoli colinization in grass fed and conventianl beef at the same rates. The study you quote from “Food Inc” has been widely refuted because the effect of acid resistant colonization does not apply to the ecoli strain that causes beef recalls (0157). in a nutshell, there is no difference in ecoli shedding between grass fed and conventional beef.
    when you make the argument for a “sustainable environment” consider the land requirements and the true effect on the environment if all beef were 100% grass fed. Given that the average bovine requires 10-30 acres/year and we feed roughly 20 million head annually in the United States, we would need an additional 800 million acres to produce beef (assuming grass cattle grow as efficiently as feedlot cattle – which they don’t). That’s equilivant to the entire land area of Texas, Montana, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah, South Dakota, Missouri and Iowa. Where do we put all the people from those states when we start using that land to graze cattle? Acquiring the land needed to raise cattle solely on grass would require massive deforestation. In addition, studies show that grazing cattle produce 2 – 4 times more methane gass than feedlot fed cattle. How is increasing the production of a deadly greenhouse gas create a “healthy sustainable environment”? I propose that feedlots actually help the environment.
    Bottom line, cattle production, just like any other business, requires efficiency to produce a safe, sustainable food supply. Today’s US cattle population is roughly the same size as it was in 1955 – about 95 Million head. In 1955, we produced 12.5 billion pounds of beef, today we produce 24 billion pounds. That efficiency comes from technology – anitbiotics, growth promotants, grain conditioners, dewormers, etc.
    The term “grass fed beef” and “sustainable agriculture” are great feel good phrases. However if you look at our track record, the United States has the safest and most plentiful food supply in the world thanks to the advances in technology that not only keep our animals healthy, but drive production efficiencies. Thank a farmer and rancher and be glad we use the technology we have to keep your belly full.