Can E. coli O157:H7 blow from feedlots to lettuce or spinach fields? (Yes) Does it matter? (Probably)

The impact of proximity to a beef cattle feedlot on E. coli O157:H7 contamination of leafy greens was examined. In each of two years, leafy greens were planted to nine plots located 60, 120, and 180 meters from a cattle feedlot (3 plots each distance).

cattle.lettuceLeafy greens (270) and feedlot manure samples (100) were collected six different times from June to September in each year. Both E. coli O157:H7 and total E. coli were recovered from leafy greens at all plot distances.

E. coli O157:H7 was recovered from 3.5% of leafy green samples per plot at 60 meters, which was higher (P < 0.05) than the 1.8% of positive samples per plot at 180 meters, indicating a decrease in contamination as distance from the feedlot was increased. Although E. coli O157:H7 was not recovered from air samples at any distance, total E. coli was recovered from air samples at the feedlot edge and all plot distances, indicating that airborne transport of the pathogen can occur.

Results suggest that risk for airborne transport of E. coli O157:H7 from cattle production is increased when cattle pen surfaces are very dry, and when this situation is combined with cattle management or cattle behaviors that generate airborne dust.

cow.poop2__1.storyCurrent leafy green field distance guidelines of 120 meters (400 feet) may not be adequate to limit the transmission of E. coli O157:H7 to produce crops planted near concentrated animal feeding operations. Additional research is needed to determine safe set-back distances between cattle feedlots and crop production that will reduce fresh produce contamination.

Effect of Proximity to a Cattle Feedlot on Escherichia coli O157:H7 Contamination of Leafy Greens and Evaluation of the Potential for Airborne Transmission


Applied and Environmental Microbiology

Elaine D. Berry, James E. Wells, James L. Bono, Bryan L. Woodbury, Norasak Kalchayanand, Keri N. Norman, Trevor V. Suslow, Gabriela López-Velasco and Patricia D. Millner

Food Safety Risk Analysis graduate course available by distance, Jan. 2011

I went to graduate school because the girl I was living with was a veterinary student who had another three years of schooling ahead, so I thought I needed a reason to hang around.

That’s not a good reason to go to graduate school.

I married the girl and had kids but dropped out of grad school.

Distance education may have helped.

The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30 per cent of people in developed countries get sick from the food and water they consume each year and has identified five factors of food handling that contribute to these illnesses: improper cooking procedures; temperature abuse during storage; lack of hygiene and sanitation by food handlers; cross-contamination between raw and fresh ready to eat foods; and acquiring food from unsafe sources.

Food Safety Risk Analysis examines the interwoven roles of risk assessment, management and communication – defined as risk analysis – and applies these concepts to problems and policy development in food safety. This course will aid students in developing the ability to critically examine food safety risk issues from various stakeholder perspectives, leading to risk management and communication activities to reduce the impact of foodborne disease.

A significant portion of the course will focus on the importance of thorough research and good communication skills, as well as the suitability of communication efforts. The emphasis on acquiring and critically evaluating electronic information will assist students in further developing lifelong learning skills. The course will be presented through lectures, case study presentations, and Internet-based support material including text, audio and video through the extensive database maintained by Dr. Douglas Powell of Kansas State University and colleagues in food safety. This course will be of interest to anyone in the food industry, food safety regulators, public health inspectors, food service managers and others.

A complete course syllabus is available here. Or e-mail me,

For enrolment information, visit the Kansas State Division of Continuing Education website at and click on Courses at the top of the page to search for it. Interested individuals can click the Add Class to Interest List button. This will prompt the student to either log into iSIS if they are currently a student and enroll, or provide information about applying to the university if they are not a student.

I have nothing to do with the prices. But at least it’s not a humanities degree (that’s a joke; see video below).

Lots can talk, but can they actually deliver food safety video without classroom command-and-control

It’s been almost 10 years since me and the ex-wife and the four kids got in the family van for our outsized family to drive to Atlanta for the annual meeting of what is now know as the International Association for Food Protection (that’s Carl Custer, right, going to deliver his Ivan Parkin lecture a few years later and trying to convince Randy Phebus to buy a decent bike)..

I was to give the Ivan Parkin lecture at the gala opening, and then would be supervising my kids as they grabbed as many freebies as possible when the trade show opened.

But we never made it.

We got to Detroit about 8 am on the Saturday morning after a 3-hour drive, and the kindly border guard said, sir, have you ever been arrested?

I sais yes, and said I have been in the U.S. about every other week for the previous three years, and she said , that’s nice, go on over there.

The dreaded secondary inspection.

I was subsequently informed after a couple of hours hanging out with my 5, 7, 10, 13-year-olds – and wife – that the U.S. had changed it’s border policy I would have to apply for a waiver to enter the U.S. and that would take six months.

But I’m supposed to talk in Atlanta tomorrow?

Six months.

The hungry family and I retreated to an IHOP in Windsor (that’s on the Canadian side of the U.S. border with Detroit), they ate syrupy stuff and I called IAFP leadership types in Atlanta.

We had been doing some consumer research at a farm market selling genetically engineered and conventional sweet corn and potatoes, and decided to start videotaping stuff, even though didn’t exist and we weren’t sure what to do with the tapes. But we had bought a video recording device. So I suggested we tape the talk, e-mail it to Atlanta, and they could broadcast it.

There was no way I was getting across the border.

Because I like to be prepared, I hadn’t really done anything for this big-shot talk, so the ex-wife drove the three hours back to Guelph, I made up my talk, and Katija came over and taped me talking in my kitchen. That talk was broadcast as the Ivan Parkin lecture at the IAFP annual meeting the next night.

Now, it’s sorta routine. I’ve given at least 20 keynote speeches and presentations via programs such as Skype and iChat since 2000, using a combination of live video feeds and pre-recorded video, for crowds ranging in size from five to 800 people.

As reported in a campus publication this week,

According to Powell, there are many advantages to using this form of technology in delivering speeches, such as eliminating the costs and stresses of travel and increasing a professor’s overall availability. Although, it does come with additional challenges, he said, such as the ever-present possibility of disrupted Internet feed and a lack of feedback from the audience.

"I actually find it forces me to be more creative," he said. "If you’re giving a talk in person, you can tell when people are sort of zoning out or falling asleep and you can modify it. You don’t get that on video because you’re talking to a camera."

Powell said to help spice up the video feed he often integrates action segments into his pre-recorded speeches, for example, utilizing cooking as a form of demonstration.

Apparently Republican Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty agrees with me, which is somewhat creepy. Pawlenty was on The Daily Show last week, and while poorly declining his presidential aspirations, said some decent stuff about education:

“For example, higher education. … Do you really think in 20 years someone’s going to put on their backpack, drive a half-hour to the University of Minnesota from the suburbs, haul their keester across campus, to sit and listen to some boring person drone on about Econ 101 or Spanish 101?

Is there another way to deliver the service other than a one-size fits all monopoly that says show up at 9 a.m on Wednesday. for Econ 101, Can’t I just pull that down on my iphone or ipad whenever the heck I feel like it and wherever I feel like it, and instead of paying thousands of dollars, can I pay $199 for iCollege instead of $0.99 for iTunes.

Pawlenty says this stuff about 5 minutes into the clip. Bricks and mortar just isn’t necessary for a lot of so-called education.

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Sarah Reasoner: Enhancing food safety distance education

Daughter Courtlynn is going to visit for American Thanksgiving in late November. Got her plane tickets last night. But even with the new flights from Dallas, getting to Manhattan (Kansas) just isn’t that easy.

That’s one of the reasons folks at Kansas State University went big into distance education. It’s just too much time spent on travel. My mother even figured out Skype last week so she could see granddaughter Sorenne.

But is there a better way to deliver food safety information by distance? And who better to answer that question than a food safety distance education person who wants to get an advanced degree?

Sarah Reasoner (right, with her hubby) had to watch and film me so much for distance education, I figured, maybe it’d be useful to actually figure out what works and what doesn’t for distance ed. So she’s been doing a part-time Masters degree while having more babies. And now she gets to tell her academic department, Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology at Kansas State University, all about it.

Sarah writes:

Distance education has experienced rapid growth in recent years in enrollment and technological advancements. These advancements have created a unique opportunity for instructors to implement emerging technologies into distance education courses and enhance student’s learning experiences. This presentation explores food safety distance education at Kansas State University, emerging web tools and how to affectively implement such tools into existing food safety distance education courses. Future research possibilities regarding the enhancement of distance education are also discussed.

Sarah talks at 8:30 Friday morning in Mosier 202. That’s in the vet college. In Manhattan (Kansas). Her slides are below. We’ll tape the talk, because how can you not tape a talk about distance education. And put it on the web. Students hate seeing themselves talk, and so do I, but it’s a useful learning tool. I’ve learned to dress better after seeing myself on video. Food Safety Distance Education.pptx