Friday, February 26, 2016

Feedlots may be contaminating salads

A new study says feedlots might be too close to fields growing leafy greens in California.

There have been salads, such as spinach, contaminated with E. Coli 0157:H7, which is common in cattle manure.

The study indicates that the current guidelines, which call for a separation of 120 meters (400 feet), may not be enough.

The study has been done by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center, Neb., the University of California-Davis, and the USDA’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, Md.

Trevor Suslow, plant pathologist with the University of California-Davis and one of the authors of the study, said the research indicates that proximity to large concentrated animal operations calls for extra diligence in determining risk and in putting in place processes that monitor potential contamination.

Food and Drug Administration produce safety regulations do not specify setback distances between leafy greens fields and cattle feedlots, although the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement in California, followed by many other organizations, put the number at 400 feet, he said.

“Many times 400 feet is more than enough separation based on position relative to prevailing winds and other times it can clearly result in contamination,” he said.

It is not a simple formula to say everything has to be a mile between feedlot operations. That could make production very difficult in most places,”  he said.

Suslow said another part of the study, not published yet, looks at the role of certain types of flies that can carry bacteria from feedlot operations to fields.