Grant Looks for Ways to Keep Salmonella out of Cattle and Beef

Collaborative team leads research to improve the safety of beef.

A team of Texas Tech University researchers were awarded $540,000 from the US Department of Agriculture and an additional $150,000 matching funds from the Beef Checkoff program to research and provide solutions for Salmonella in cattle.

The researchers from Texas Tech’s International Center for Food Industry Excellence, in collaboration with scientists from USDA’s Agricultural Research Services, will explore important factors that contribute to Salmonella being carried by cattle. With this knowledge, the team will then engage the beef industry to develop and implement practical solutions to reduce the likelihood that Salmonella finds its way into the beef.

“Our team is focused on improving food safety and public health,” said lead researcher Guy Loneragan, a professor of food safety and public health. “In this project, we will conduct a variety of targeted basic and applied research which then helps to inform our stakeholder engagement. This engagement in turn helps us narrow in on those solutions that are the most practical, implementable, and therefore, likely to have a beneficial impact.”

Texas Tech’s team includes Loneragan, Mindy Brashears, Todd Brashears, Mike Ballou, Chance Brooks and Mark Miller.

“This is a complex task and requires constructive and coordinated interaction of research, education and outreach efforts,” Loneragan said. “Our great team includes microbiologists, epidemiologists, meat scientists, immunologists and educational specialists.”

 Loneragan said they have initiated parts of the project by hiring a graduate student, engaging the industry, preparing the collaborators and looking to receive samples in the next 60 days.

The research includes a series of basic and applied experiments at Texas Tech and with the two collaborators.

“Some of these basic experiments will help us better understand how Salmonella gets to the lymph nodes and then how and where it survives in the nodes,” Loneragan said. “On a more applied approach, we will implement a surveillance program with industry to describe the seasonal, regional, and animal-type risk factors for having Salmonella in lymph nodes. We will also conduct some studies pre-harvest to determine if there are steps we can take to reduce the likelihood that animals will be positive for Salmonella in their lymph nodes.”

Loneragan said they will then develop best practices and distribute information about those practices within the industry.

Most of the basic and applied studies will be conducted over the next 18 months. The study runs through September 2014.

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CONTACT: Guy Loneragan, professor, Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-2805 ext. 268, or