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October 8, 2001

Food Safety and Farming Topic of Address at UW-RF

An opening address on ensuring America's food supply stays safe by providing better cattle cleanliness on the farm will kick off the 21st annual Food Microbiology Symposium at UW-River Falls.

Dr. Michael Doyle from the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia will address "Keeping Foodborne Pathogens Down on the Farm" at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 14, in the River Room of Rodli Commons.

The presentation is free and open to the public.

Doyle will speak about research on E. coli O157 bacteria first discovered in 1982 as a human pathogen. Since then substantial research has shown that cattle are a major source, with nearly 25 percent shedding the contaminant in feces during the summer months.

Case-control studies in the U.S., Canada, and Europe have identified eating undercooked ground beef, visiting farms and handling animals on the farm as principal risk factors for becoming infected. Cattle manure, of which an estimated 1.2 billion tons are produced annually in the U.S., appears to be a principal source of the E. coli O157 problem. Animals, water and food that contact cattle manure are potential vehicles.

Doyle calls for more aggressive preventive steps on the farm, and he will discuss how effective control programs to substantially reduce the E coli infections requires intervention strategies throughout the food continuum, from farm to table. These techniques at the farm include competitive exclusion bacteria, innovative vaccines, bacteriophage, and targeted animal management practices addressing common points of contamination.

Consumers also have a role in implementing intervention controls in food handling and preparation. But Doyle states, unfortunately, that many consumers eat high risk foods, improperly handle and store foods, and ignore warnings regarding foods known to be unsafe.

The symposium, sponsored by the department of animal and food science in the UW-RF College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Science, will continue with a technical program on Oct. 15-17 for about 100 technicians, researchers and government regulators and inspectors from the United States and abroad.

The symposium's technical program consists of lectures and discussions relevant to foodborne pathogens, toxins, safety, quality and shelf-life of foods by speakers from academia, industry and regulatory agencies. It also includes presentations by representatives of various companies involved in developing and marketing rapid and automated methods for microbiological analysis of food, MORE FOOD SAFETY - PAGE 3 water and the environment.

The conference provides a basic understanding of the strategies and approaches available for the detection, enumeration, isolation and characterization of the microorganisms and toxins of interest in food microbiology and emphasizes the practical application of the information to the solution of problems dealing with microbiological safety and quality of food.

For more information, contact symposium coordinator Professor Purnendu C. Vasavada in the department of animal and food science at 715/425-3150.

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