I’m going to thank Gary Wilson for providing us all this information. I was aware of the connection, but, most people, sadly, are not.
Take it away Gary..
With respect to the E. coli in preschools in Calgary, one might ask what is the source of the E. coli O157:H7 and how does it get into the environment? It turns out that stopping the production of E. coli O157:H7 and other acid resistant E. coli is as simple as no longer feeding beef and diary cattle the high production diet containing corn. This problem is pervasive in agriculture as the common goal in agriculture is to maximize yield in order to maximize profit. The scientific evidence to support my statement is found here:
Gary’s okay and further comment
Certainly go ahead and share the blog. I have never seen the mainstream media mention it. One way to fool the public is to withhold information. The MSM is good at that.
You are right, cattle should eat grass. Corn fattens cattle because of what is and isn’t in the corn. Corn is lacking in three essential amino acids, methionine, tryptophan and lysine. Thus feeding corn to cattle results in their being malnourished so they keep eating the corn to try to meet their nutritional need. In so doing, the excess carbohydrate fattens them. It does the same to people. Hybrid corn does a better job as it has more carbohydrate and less protein. The reason for hybrid corn is higher yield and the consequence is reduced nutritional value.
Before we get to the info it’s worth noting- Gary is correct! I can’t recall ever seeing this information in the main stream media. We, hubby and myself, read about this type of stuff. In books. Since this is a topic that interests the both of us. Rather than preventing E. Coli contamintion what we largely get are new antibiotic and other pharma treatments. For profit, of course! But never a word on preventing or reducing this problem
Also, notice the E. Coli contamination is being used to score cheap political points against the government of the day, rather than actually caring about this serious problem
Idiotic Globe and Mail piece– Danielle Smith must uncover roots of E. coli crisis and ensure it doesn’t happen again
We already know what the roots are of this problem- This problem long predates Danielle Smith. But, she’s certainly the convenient scape goat – Notice the piece from Cornell was published in 1998
A simple change in cattle diets in the days before slaughter may reduce the risk of Escherichia coli (E. coli) infections in humans, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Cornell University microbiologists have discovered.
Research reported in the Sept. 11 issue of the journal Science indicates that grain-based cattle diets promote the growth of E. coli that can survive the acidity of the human stomach and cause intestinal illness. E. coli contamination is responsible for more than 20,000 infections and 200 deaths each year in the United States.
Fortunately there is a workable solution to the food-safety problem, the scientists say. By feeding hay to cattle for about five days before slaughter, the number of acid-resistant E. coli can be dramatically reduced.
“Most bacteria are killed by the acid of stomach juice, but E. coli from grain-fed cattle are resistant to strong acids,” explains James B. Russell, a USDA microbiologist and faculty member of the Cornell Section of Microbiology. “When people eat foods contaminated with acid-resistant E. coli — including pathogenic strains like O157:H7 — the chance of getting sick increases.”
E. coli is a normal bacterium in the gastrointestinal tract of animals and humans, and most types are not harmful (See “E. coli and Cattle” fact sheet, attached). However, disease-causing strains such as E. coli O157:H7 produce toxins that cause bloody diarrhea or even kidney failure in humans. Mature cattle are unaffected by E. coli O157:H7. Only a small number of cattle (estimated at 1 to 2 percent at any one time) shed E. coli O157:H7 in their feces, a rate that is not fully explained.
When beef carcasses are accidentally contaminated by feces at slaughter, the pathogens can enter the human food supply. E. coli O157:H7 can be killed by cooking or irradiation, but the bacterium continues to pose a food-safety risk.
Cattle are fed starch-containing grains to increase growth rate and produce tender meat. Because the bovine gastrointestinal tract digests starch poorly, Russell explains, some undigested grain reaches the colon, where it is fermented. When the grain ferments — and acetic, propionic and butyric acids accumulate in the animal’s colon — a large fraction of E. coli produced are the acid-resistant type.
“Grain does not specifically promote the growth of E. coli O157:H7, but it increases the chance that at least some E. coli could pass through the gastric stomach of humans,” Russell says. “The carbohydrates of hay are not so easily fermented, and hay does not promote either the growth or acid resistance of E. coli. When we switched cattle from grain-based diets to hay for only five days, acid-resistant E. coli could no longer be detected.”
In studies performed at Cornell, beef cattle fed grain-based rations typical of commercial feedlots had 1 million acid-resistant E. coli, per gram of feces, and dairy cattle fed only 60 percent grain also had high numbers of acid-resistant bacteria. In each case, the high counts could be explained by grain fermentation in the intestines.
By comparison, cattle fed hay or grass had only acid-sensitive E. coli, and these bacteria were destroyed by an “acid shock” that mimicked the human stomach, the microbiologists report in Science.
According to microbiologist Russell, acid-resistant strains of bacteria have evolved to overcome the protective barrier of the gastric stomach. The ongoing process of natural selection allows organisms with the appropriate genes to survive and multiply where others cannot. Because cattle have been fed high-grain, growth-promoting diets for more than 40 years, he says, there has been ample opportunity to select acid-resistant forms.
Further research is needed to identify the acid-resistance genes of E. coli, but Russell says that “common laboratory strains” of E. coli appear to lack the necessary DNA to survive acidic gastrointestinal environments.
“In the meantime, now that we know where the acid-resistant E. coli are coming from, we can control them with a relatively inexpensive change in diet,” Russell says. “This strategy has the potential to control the production of other acid-resistant bacteria, including virulent strains of E. coli that have not yet evolved.”
A brief period of hay-feeding immediately before slaughter “should not affect either carcass size or meat quality,” and the diet change could be implemented with minimal expense and inconvenience to feedlot operators, according to Donald H. Beermann, Cornell professor of animal science.
USDA microbiologist Russell has been stationed in Ithaca for more than 17 years and is affiliated with the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center in Madison, Wisc. He holds the rank of adjunct professor of microbiology at Cornell, and the other authors of the Science report were his students when the feeding studies were conducted: Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, currently a postdoctoral fellow, completed his Ph.D. in food science at Cornell in 1996. Todd Callaway is a Ph.D. candidate in microbiology. Menas Kizoulis, a Cornell senior in biological sciences, was recently awarded a Howard Hughes Undergraduate Fellowship to continue research in Russell’s laboratory.
E. coli 0157:H7, the toxic strain that caused the recent outbreak of food poisoning from bagged spinach, is a fairly recent discovery; it was unknown before 1982
One of the reasons this new strain makes us sick is that it is more acid-resistant than other forms of E. coli, so it can pass through our stomachs unharmed into the intestines, where it produces a toxin that causes diarrhea and organ damage. So, how did an acid-resistant strain of E. coli develop? Most outbreaks have been linked to cattle, and one major change in beef production in recent decades has been the confinement of cattle to feedlots where they are fed high-grain diets. It is now clear that forcing cattle to eat an unnatural high-grain diet, rather than their natural diet of grass, isn’t good for the cows, or for us. Here’s how Michael Pollan explains it in his brilliant new book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma:
When I was young, not to sound cheesy, but meat tasted completely different and never did I hear a peep about e coli– Nadda! Until I was in my ’20’s.