EUROPE – A recent review focused on preharvest interventions for controlling foodborne pathogens in beef has highlighted maintaining high herd health status, implementing good management practices, and prioritizing biosecurity measures as the three essential strategies necessary to achieve control.

The comprehensive assessment aimed to update knowledge on controlling important pathogens in beef and evaluate the effectiveness of various interventions.

The review encompassed 28 controlled trials involving pathogens such as Campylobacter, Clostridium botulinum, Clostridium perfringens, extended spectrum-lactamase AmpC gene-carrying bacteria (ESBL/AmpC), Salmonella, and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in beef or dairy cattle.

The majority of recent research on preharvest interventions in bovines concentrated on Salmonella and STEC.

While specific management strategies for controlling STEC were not extensively covered in the review, vaccination emerged as a potential preventive measure against severe disease outcomes.

Notably, practices such as cleaning, disinfection, effective management, and robust biosecurity measures showcased effectiveness in curbing the spread of STEC.

Preventing pathogen recycling and sustainable effects

Although some foodborne pathogens are typically better controlled at the post-harvest stage, the review emphasized that preharvest interventions have a more sustainable impact by preventing pathogen recycling, including the presence of ESBL/AmpC-positive bacteria in the environment.

Among the interventions tested, vaccination, cleaning, disinfection, and biosecurity measures demonstrated effectiveness. It is essential, however, to implement these measures correctly to ensure their efficacy.

Vaccination was found to be valuable in preventing severe disease outcomes and reducing shedding, while practices like cleaning, disinfection, and biosecurity significantly curtailed pathogen introduction and spread.

Additionally, feed treatments and additives yielded mixed results but showed promise in combating Salmonella.

High herd health, management, and biosecurity

Overall, the studies concerning Salmonella and STEC underscored the significance of maintaining high herd health status, implementing good management practices, and prioritizing biosecurity measures to control or prevent most foodborne pathogens in cattle during the preharvest stage.

Although not included in the review, the approach of starting with breeding animals free from pathogens at the top of the health and breeding pyramid, as well as employing heat treatment for feed, has been reported as a feasible and effective intervention for combating foodborne pathogens like Salmonella.

Researchers and industry stakeholders are continuing to explore novel preharvest interventions and control methods for foodborne pathogens in beef.

This includes investigations into alternative approaches such as probiotics, phage therapy, and novel biosecurity measures that aim to further enhance food safety practices and reduce the risk of pathogen transmission.

Efforts are also underway to collaborate with farmers, ranchers, and industry associations to raise awareness about the importance of implementing effective preharvest interventions. Educational campaigns, training programs, and resources are being developed to assist cattle producers in adopting best practices and ensuring the highest standards of food safety.

The findings of this review are expected to inform future regulatory policies and guidelines concerning preharvest interventions for foodborne pathogens in beef.

Government agencies, such as the Food Standards Agency, will work in conjunction with industry stakeholders to develop comprehensive frameworks that promote safe and sustainable beef production while safeguarding public health.

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