Billions of dollars rest on confidence in the safety and quality of the beef supply. For producers, many of the management strategies they already employ contribute to food safety. Yet, new approaches can help reduce pathogens while improving profitability.
“Food safety is a baton we hand off to each member of the food chain,” describes H. Nielsen, DVM, Technical Service – Ruminant, Lallemand Animal Nutrition. “Cow/calf producers hand off their responsibility to stockers and backgrounders. Then feedlot producers pass the baton to packers and processors. Finally, consumers have the responsibility for crossing the finish line with a meal safely prepared in their own home.”
Reducing the pathogen burden of E. coli 0157:H7 and Salmonella are particularly critical at the feedlot level. Yet, it’s not sustainable to focus on safety at the expense of profitability — both goals must be met simultaneously, Dr. Nielsen says.
That’s why the industry is implementing new options that achieve both goals. For instance, adding probiotics can help maximize average daily gain (ADG) while making the hind gut of cattle inhospitable to E. coli and Salmonella. This helps reduce the pathogen burden of cattle before processing.
In a study, the specific probiotic strain Lactobacillus acidophilus BT-1386 improved ADG and feed conversion rates of finishing steers. Cattle fed the probiotic gained 13 pounds more per head than animals that didn’t receive the probiotic.1 Other studies demonstrated L. acidophilus BT-1386 reduced shedding of E. coli and reduced re-infection of Salmonella.2
In fact, L. acidophilus BT-1386 was added to the 2015 pre-harvest production best practice (PBP) document released by the Beef Industry Food Safety Council (BIFSCo) based on peer-reviewed literature supporting its effectiveness at reducing E. coli O157:H7 when fed at 1 x 109 colony-forming units (CFU), or 0.05 grams, per head per day.3 This strain is only commercially available in Micro-Cell® products.
“It’s also easy to simply add L. acidophilus BT-1386 to the ration,” Dr. Nielsen says. “Probiotics can work together with other pre-harvest and post-harvest interventions to secure the trust and confidence of consumers and help produce safe, wholesome beef products. Simple, sustainable and profitable solutions like probiotics are exciting for the whole industry.”