Modeling Preharvest and Harvest Interventions for Escherichia coli O157 Contamination of Beef Cattle Carcasses
Field studies evaluating the effects of multiple concurrent preharvest interventions for Escherichia coli O157 are logistically and economically challenging; however, modeling techniques may provide useful information on these effects while also identifying crucial information gaps that can guide future research. We constructed a risk assessment model with data obtained from a systematic search of scientific literature. Parameter distributions were incorporated into a stochastic Monte Carlo modeling framework to examine the impacts of different combinations of preharvest and harvest interventions for E. coli O157 on the risk of beef carcass contamination. We estimated the risk of E. coli O157 carcass contamination conditional on preharvest fecal prevalence estimates, inclusion of feed additive(s) in the diet, vaccination for E. coli O157, transport and lairage effects, hide intervention(s), and carcass intervention(s). Prevalence parameters for E. coli O157 were assumed to encompass potential effects of concentration; therefore, concentration effects were not specifically evaluated in this study. Sensitivity analyses revealed that fecal prevalence, fecal-to-hide transfer, hide-to-carcass transfer, and carcass intervention efficacy significantly affected the risk of carcass contamination (correlation coefficients of 0.37, 0.56, 0.58, and −0.29, respectively). The results indicated that combinations of preharvest interventions may be particularly important for supplementing harvest interventions during periods of higher variability in fecal shedding prevalence (i.e., summer). Further assessments of the relationships among fecal prevalence and concentration, hide contamination, and subsequent carcass contamination are needed to further define risks and intervention impacts for E. coli O157 contamination of beef.