Early intervention

Promising preliminary results on Cargill’s E.coli O157:H7 vaccine trial

January 2011 – Cargill seeks to reduce E.coli O157:H7 carried in cattle with a vaccine trial aimed at early intervention.

Vaccination trial

Cargill joined with Epitopix LLC, the Minnesota-based producer of the vaccine, and The Beef Checkoff on the vaccine trial.

Cargill’s E.coli O157:H157 vaccine trial is aimed at reducing E.coli in cattle before the cattle reach the Cargill processing plants. The US $1 million trial involved the entire cattle supply – 85,000 head of beef cattle – from 10 feedlots that had been dedicated to Cargill’s Fort Morgan, Colorado beef processing facility. Specifics for the vaccine trial: 

  • Nearly 60,000 of the total 85,000 cattle received two doses of the vaccine at the feedlots – one dose upon arrival, one dose approximately 90 days prior to harvesting.
  • The remaining cattle received a single dose and served as buffers prior to and following the cattle (receiving two doses) as they cycled through the harvesting process.
Promising preliminary results

Preliminary results were made available, based on vaccinated cattle harvested from May through August 2010. Dan Schaefer, Cargill assistant vice president for beef research and development, notes that they are pleased with preliminary results and eager to review the analytical work done for the trial. “We’re determining the best way to proceed with this science-based, evolutionary process, which we hope will lead to validating the potential value of vaccine as another food safety tool for beef production.”

According to Schaefer, numerous factors influence the potential effectiveness of the vaccine including weather, geography, seasonality, animal and herd card and management, vaccine dosage.

Early intervention

The vaccine trial was the first pre-harvest intervention trial completed that monitored activity from the time of vaccination through measurements in meat. Schaefer notes, “The potential success of a vaccine should be viewed as another possible measure in the beef industry's food safety toolbox that better ensures a safe food supply for consumers."

Cargill plans to move forward with a second vaccine trial, tentatively scheduled to begin in summer 2011.

Food safety leadership

Our customers rely on us for quality and our ability to safeguard the wholesomeness and integrity of the products we buy, produce and sell. We are committed to providing safe food and animal feed products and services. Learn more about our food safety actions in food safety leadership.