Escherichia coliO157:H7 – Discerning Facts from Fiction: An Integrated Research and Extension Project for Multiple Audiences

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid


The O157:H7 (EcO157) epidemiology of Shiga-toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in cattle is complex, and myths about pre-harvest control are perpetuated. The objectives of this project were to identify perpetuated misinformation and inform four audiences about evidence-based risks and pre-harvest control of EcO157 by addressing: (i) EcO157 epidemiology and pre-harvest control; (ii) how food safety policy is created; and (iii) how to present accurate information about EcO157. An environmental scan using a daily Internet search helped identify themes for education. A literature review of pre-harvest control measures contributed to the development of educational materials (fact sheets, website, web presentations and conferences). Conference 1 was a webinar with 315 registrants, 10 countries including 41 US states and four Canadian provinces. Most participants felt confident in using their new knowledge, more than half felt confident enough to answer EcO157 questions from the public and many would recommend the recorded version of the webinar to colleagues. Conference 2 was live in the Washington, DC, area with most participants employed by the US government. All agreed that they better understood pre-harvest control, how food safety policy was made, and were confident they could create an effective message about STEC pre-harvest control. Videos were posted and received 348 Internet visitors within 2 months. Conference 3 was a webinar with a live audience and Twitter feeds, targeting people who give nutrition advice. Almost all ranked the programme good to excellent and relevant to their work. About 25% indicated that they would share: ‘grass-fed beef is not safer than grain-fed’, 25% would share information on effectiveness of cattle vaccines, and 14% would share information on message mapping. Across all conferences, major changes in knowledge included the following: there is no additional risk of EcO157 shedding from grain-fed versus grass-fed cattle, pre-harvest vaccination is efficacious, and production systems (pasture versus confinement) do not affect EcO157 shedding rates.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles