STEC is an acronym for Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli. Most E. coli bacteria are normal inhabitants of the intestinal tracts of humans and animals, and are non-pathogenic (do not cause disease).
Human outbreaks of STEC-related disease occur through consumption of contaminated food or water, through direct contact with infected animals or environments contaminated by their feces, or by direct human-to-human contact with infected persons (i.e. secondary infections). Cattle and other ruminant animals such as deer are natural reservoirs of STEC, which can lead to contamination of meat and milk during harvest and processing.
Dr. Christina Lanzas from the University of Tennessee has joined the STEC Team with a project she will be working on, entitled; Transmission dynamics of Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) in cattle.
Although STEC serotypes may share common transmission pathways and habitats, differences in the ability to thrive and survive in different cattle and environment habitats may result in differences in transmissibility and persistence of the serotypes in beef production systems.
The overall objective of the project is to quantify the transmission of STEC serotypes in the beef production system. Dr. Lanzas’s team will develop a stochastic transmission model to describe the STEC dynamics in cattle, and fit the model to the data collected in objective 2 to compare the relative transmissibility of the different STEC serotypes in cattle.
Dr. Amitra Jackson-Davis’s Project is entitled; quantifying the impact of intervention technologies and/or control practices applied at pre-harvest production and post-harvest processing stages of beef manufacturing. This project’s research will investigate the effectiveness of UV light treatment and ultrasound in combination with organic acids and surfactants on the inactivation of non-O157 and O157:H7 STEC on beef trim.
The long-term goal: Improve the safety of beef products by developing "multiple-hurdle" intervention systems, which would inactivate STEC on beef. This work will provide insight into the effectiveness of the proposed multiple-hurdle antimicrobial technologies on the inactivation of non-O157 STEC. Processors will be able to use this information in controlling different serotypes of E. coli in beef products.
Spring/Summer 2014 Internship Proposals are now listed on the Education & Outreach Student Internship page of the website.
Students are encouraged to apply by November 29th, 2013 for a variety of opporunities across the country. Students projects will have merit within the goals and objectives of the STEC CAP grant, be scientifically sound in design and execution, and clearly indicate benefits to be gained by the student.
Students are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to gain experience and knowledge within their discipline. Questions about the internship process or program can be aimed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seminar Announcment: Meat Safety Management in a Complex World by Scott Goltry, Vice President of Technical Services, American Meat Institute, February 26th, 4:00pm The live stream will be available at
Secretary's Honor Award to member of the USDA STEC Team (Source: USDA-ARS)