Are Feedlots Infecting Our Lettuce?

jerzeegirl (FL zone 9B)(9b)

Cattle are a known source of deadly E.coli, but the government doesn’t inspect feedlots for the bacteria.


Don't you think it should?


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elvis

Sure.

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Stan Areted

I think there should be a government program to hire unskilled workers to wipe the hooves and behinds of all bovines with Clorox wipes.

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Ziemia(6a)

The regs protecting our food supply need beefing up.

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zmith

I'm assuming these are feedlots for fast food beef. If they have to clean up their activities then McD's, Burger King, Wendy's, Jack in the Box and Taco Bell won't be able to offer their $1.00 hamburgers and tacos. The horror!

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miss lindsey (She/Her)(8a)

When the welfare of the animals is put first, the rest of the problems just disappear as if by magic.

Feedlots don’t put the welfare of the animal anywhere in the top ten of priorities so naturally it will follow that the animals are sick and by extension dangerous to the health of humans.

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carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b(zone 9/10)

Don't hold your breath waiting for improvements in safeguarding our food supply while GOP is in charge. Gov't regulation (a.k.a. government takeover) interferes with profits, doncha know...

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elvis

the animals are sick

Lindsey, the animals aren't sick. As Stan suggested (in a very practical way!), it's a hygiene/cleanliness issue. The cows are fine, the e. coli doesn't hurt them, even the kind that hurts humans. In fact, most of us have e. coli in our guts, just not the deadly sort.

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Ziemia(6a)

The run off needs to be controlled. (Many of the "unsick" cattle have been pumped with anti-biotics so they seem healthy (if they should be tested.)

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sushipup1

I can only speak for the Salinas Valley area, where I lived for 35 years. The lettuce fields there are NOT 'ringed by feed lots'. There's very little livestock production in the area, certainly compared to the huge acreage in lettuce. 99% of dollar production in Monterey County is agricultural, only 1% is livestock.

https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/AgCensus/2012/Online_Resources/County_Profiles/California/cp06053.pdf

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loonlakelaborcamp(3 A/B)

The e coli comes from wildlife, birds, and human workers. I guess we could diaper some of them...

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Stan Areted

I think e coli has infected the minds of more people than we realize--since it's very, very nasty. Clorox cannot fix that kind of nasty--it's often permanent damage.

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Joaniepoanie

The animals aren’t sick? Read this from one of the leaders in farm animal protection:

https://mercyforanimals.org/the-problem




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elvis

Joaniepoanie

The animals aren’t sick? Read this from one of the leaders in farm animal protection:

https://mercyforanimals.org/the-problem


Mercy for Animals.org? Um, no thanks. The piglet necklace sounds cute, though:

https://store.mercyforanimals.org

Mercy For Animals’ piglet necklace with its soft rose quartz stone is a darling reminder to keep farmed animals close to your heart! Because each is made by hand, every necklace is a true one-of-a-kind work of art that will radiate your most compassionate self.

I'll stick to this sort of site for human health information:

Generic Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria are an essential, but normally harmless component of the digestive tract of healthy animals and people. E. coli O157:H7 is a virulent strain of the family of generic bacteria. It produces large quantities of a potent toxin that adheres to and causes severe damage to the lining of the intestine. E. coli O157:H7 can colonize in the intestines of animals (it does not cause illness in cattle), which could contaminate meat at slaughter...

In a 1999 study by Colorado State University and reported by the American Meat Institute Foundation, an average of 3.65 percent of cattle headed for slaughter at 12 packing plants were carrying the harmful E. coli O157:H7 bacteria. However, the bacteria were found on less than one-half of 1 percent (0.44 percent) of the fresh carcasses sampled in the study. Further, no E. coli showed up once the carcasses had been subjected to intervention processes in the plant, such as steam, hot water, and organic acid rinses. Checkoff-funded research has helped to develop these interventions, which have been shown to reduce the incidence of bacteria on carcasses by more than 99 percent. NCBA and the cattle industry continue to support research funding for the elimination of this pathogen from the food supply...

More at link: https://dairy-cattle.extension.org/e-coli-o157h7-ncba-factsheet/

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miss lindsey (She/Her)(8a)

The animals are sick.

Once you’ve been around animals that are *not* sick, the difference is starkly apparent.

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bleusblue2

Joaniepoanie

The animals aren’t sick? Read this from one of the leaders in farm animal protection:

https://mercyforanimals.org/the-problem

~~~~

thanks Joanie. I can't look at it. A friend of mine says those who care about it already know about it and no picture will change the rest of humanity. She may be right but there was a time when I didn't know how the animals we eat are treated and killed. When I did, it changed my mind and have to hope that getting this news out will help.

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Zalco/bring back Sophie!

Why are feedlot animals fed antibiotics if they are not sick?

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zmith

It's for preventative care, Zalco. Because the conditions are deplorable, and livestock are kept in such close proximity, disease and infection rapidly spread. So, if one animal is found to have an infection, the entire herd is inoculated.

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jerzeegirl (FL zone 9B)(9b)

I think e coli has infected the minds of more people than we realize--since it's very, very nasty. Clorox cannot fix that kind of nasty--it's often permanent damage.

Each year in the United States, E. coli infections cause approximately 265,000 illnesses and about 100 deaths. Approximately 40 percent of these infections are caused by the strain E. coli O157:H7, a strain that is part of the shiga toxin-producing group of E. coli bacteria (STEC). The other 60 percent of E. coli cases are caused by non-0157:H7 shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC).

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carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b(zone 9/10)

Antibiotics also cause animals to grow bigger faster.

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ubro(2a)

The cows are fine, the e. coli doesn't hurt them, even the kind that hurts humans. In fact, most of us have e. coli in our guts, just not the deadly sort.

Yup, if you have ever raised cattle you would know that in the spring, rather than walk 10 feet to the fresh watering bowl they will happily slurp up the manure tea runoff with nary a burp of disgust.

The e coli comes from wildlife, birds, and human workers. I guess we could diaper some of them...

Absolutely, we had a recall recently of Robin Hood Flour infected with e coli, they surmised it was from the pigeon poo in the wheat granaries.

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Ziemia(6a)

From the link up top:

Government inspectors have to ask the owner’s permission to collect samples from feedlots (known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). Michael Taylor, who served as deputy commissioner for food at the FDA during the Obama administration, calls this “one of the glaring remaining gaps” in federal food regulation. “In my opinion, the FDA should have clear authority … to go onto a CAFO and take whatever samples it wants to take,” he said.

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Ziemia(6a)

1999....

In a 1999 study by Colorado State University and reported by the American Meat Institute Foundation, an average of 3.65 percent of cattle headed for slaughter at 12 packing plants were carrying the harmful E. coli O157:H7 bacteria

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Joaniepoanie

Sites like dairy-cattleextension can’t be trusted because most factory farmers do not police themselves and the industry as a whole dedicates itself to fighting any legislation to make farms better. It’s all about profit. Things have gotten worse under Trump who has deregulated even more. Mercy For Animals has done many undercover investigations exposing just how horrendous most farms are.


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elvis

Animal treatment is a different topic than the spread of dangerous e. coli types from cattle to humans. I'm sure everyone agrees that we want all animals to be treated humanely, even if we plan to eat them at some point.

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miss lindsey (She/Her)(8a)

“Animal treatment is a different topic than the spread of dangerous e. coli types from cattle to humans.”

They are related though.

I happen to believe, strongly, that animals kept in the conditions at feedlots can never be healthy (and there is plenty of empirical evidence to support that). Their gut microbiomes are not as diverse as they would be if they lead a more natural life. And the overuse of antibiotics destroys the more delicate bacteria so that E. coli can proliferate to higher levels than “normal.”

However, it’s what is done with the waste that becomes the problem. Since all the animals are condensed into one spot, the waste is not being scattered around like it would be in ranged cattle. So the operator has to clean the pens.

It is impossible for that quantity of manure to be composted efficiently without significant cost, so it is spread raw on fields.

If it is spread at the wrong time wrt the growing season of the crops, or if it leaches into groundwater or rivers/streams used for irrigation (or god forbid drinking water), we can get E. coli on our vegetables.

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elvis

Their gut microbiomes are not as diverse as they would be if they lead a more natural life. And the overuse of antibiotics destroys the more delicate bacteria so that E. coli can proliferate to higher levels than “normal.”

I understand your thinking on that, lindsey. Apparently, it's a little more complicated, and it's worldwide. Check this out:

Adaptation to life inside cattle may be driving E. coli to develop harmful features

A large-scale study of the genetic differences and similarities among E. coli bacteria from cattle and humans indicates that features causing food poisoning in humans may continuously be emerging in bacteria from cattle as a means to better adapt to their environment.

While E. coli bacteria are one of the most well-known causes of food poisoning, a wide variety of E. coli strains exists, many of which are harmless, permanent residents of our intestines. However, the ingestion of harmful strains of E. coli on contaminated food can lead to severe illness, vomiting, and diarrhea.

"To develop the most effective preventive measures, we need a deep understanding of the source and living conditions of the bacteria," says Yoshitoshi Ogura, associate professor at Kyushu University's Department of Bacteriology, who led the research.

"Although cattle have long been thought to be a main source of E. coli that cause food poisoning, why dangerous forms would keep appearing in cattle has been unclear."

Ogura's group, in collaboration with researchers across Japan and in France, Belgium, and the United States, set out to help answer this question by investigating the genetics of E. coli bacteria collected from cattle and humans in 21 countries spanning six continents.

"To date, there have been only a limited number of reports of the genome sequences of E. coli from cattle, so we needed to fill that gap," comments Yoko Arimizu, first author on the paper in Genome Research announcing the new results.

While the largest number of samples was from Japan, strains from other regions exhibited characteristics that were well distributed among those from Japan, indicating a good diversity of the set of samples.

Based on the genetic features of the bacteria, the researchers could generally separate the different strains of E. coli into two groups, with one primarily consisting of bacteria collected from humans and the other of those from cattle.

Applying the same analysis to clinically obtained E. coli that are known to cause illness, the researchers found that most of the strains causing intestinal problems belonged to the group associated with cattle.

Furthermore, many of the samples from cattle exhibited features similar to those causing food poisoning, such as the production of Shiga toxin. While these features generally appear not to cause illness in cattle, their prevalence in the investigated samples suggests that such characteristics are beneficial for life in a cattle's intestine.

"As long as there is pressure to maintain or strengthen these illness-producing characteristics to better adapt to living in a cattle's intestine, new variants of E. coli that cause food poisoning are likely to continue appearing," states Ogura.

The researchers speculate that these characteristics may help E. coli protect itself from bacteria-eating organisms present in cattle intestines, but more work is needed to identify the exact reason.

https://phys.org/news/2019-08-life-cattle-coli-features.html

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miss lindsey (She/Her)(8a)

Yes, it certainly is more complicated! Too complicated to go into in depth here, that’s for sure.

To answer jerzeegirl’s question, I think the government should be doing a lot more across the board to protect food supplies and that includes inspections.

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jerzeegirl (FL zone 9B)(9b)

Agreed. I don't see why anyone, no matter their political persuasion, would have a problem with that. As consumers, we have no ability to know if our food is safe or not unless the government takes measures to test and report.

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elvis

Well, heck. I said that in the first post on this thread.

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elvis

You're all over the place, jp. Now you're talking about swine, salmonella, and privatizing pig inspections. Okay. Have fun.

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Joaniepoanie

It’s all connected.

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Delilah66

ALL humans have e.coli. A specific strain of e. coli is used as an indicator organism of contamination in drinking water and wastewater because (1) it is not harmful to humans involved in the analysis and (2) if its count is below a specified level, the harmful strains are also.

Feedlots are anathemata to health departments.


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elvis

Delilah66

ALL humans have e.coli

I provided that information in one of my posts above^^^.

While E. coli bacteria are one of the most well-known causes of food poisoning, a wide variety of E. coli strains exists, many of which are harmless, permanent residents of our intestines.

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Stan Areted

Well, looks like a cure of sorts!

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carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b(zone 9/10)

I know who would have a problem with inspections - those who own & run food production companies who do not want to spend 1 penny on safety, and though it's not all, it's more than enough to endanger consumers, workers, and our environment.

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Izzy Mn(4)

Do the growers use waste to fertilize fields? They do here in Minnesota, I'm sure plenty of other places, common practice. The farmers used to spread the "solid" waste in spring, that is pretty stinky. But I've noticed that the newer practice is to liquefy it, in large semi tanks and spray it on the fields, again in the spring. The liquefied smell is way worse. Maybe they are using manure too close to harvest time so it's not broken down enough. Or maybe the source for manure is so heavily infected with e-coli it just is too much to be broken down naturally.

Also, I can definitely tell by the smell if it's cow manure or pig. Big difference in odor.


I've wondered what type of protection gear they use when spraying the liquid stuff. I would think it's dangerous to inhale any of the spray.

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carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b(zone 9/10)

I seem to recall Planet Money did an episode about how such contamination occurred, and NPR.org as done a lot of reporting ion this topic:

https://www.npr.org/search?query=romaine%20lattuce&page=1

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miss lindsey (She/Her)(8a)

Izzy MN, if they are like the farmers around here they use no protective gear at all, other than what they get from their closed cabs.

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loonlakelaborcamp(3 A/B)

Manure recycling is great for the soil. It adds needed fertilizer and organic matter. It is never used on leaf crops.

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