Fecal Detection Technology Advances to
Whole-Carcass Imaging System By
August 14, 2001
Dangerous bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7 are being spotlighted
because Agricultural Research Service
researchers in partnership with eMerge Interactive, Inc., of
Sebastian, Fla., have further developed and tested commercial designs of a
fecal detection system capable of scanning an entire beef carcass.
The device can help the meatpacking industry supply safe food
products to U.S. and foreign consumers. In a recent trial of an eMerge
prototype at the Food and
Agricultural Products Research and Technology Center at
Oklahoma State University, the detection
system revealed trace levels of contamination that were invisible to the human
eye, prior to and after trimming. The prototype was also successful in
evaluating fecal decontamination on carcasses subjected to levels of high-
temperature steam from steam vacuums or steam cabinets. This is a common
practice used for microbial intervention in the beef slaughter industry.
The fecal detection technology was developed and patented by ARS
scientists Thomas A.
A. Rasmussen, in collaboration with Iowa
State University chemist Jacob W. Petrich. It has been exclusively licensed
by eMerge and is being further developed under a cooperative research and
Research and development engineers at eMerge have developed this
technology into new prototypes that scan an entire side of beef for fecal
contamination. This improves the technology's practicality for the beef packing
USDA's Food Safety and
Inspection Service has a zero-tolerance standard for visible fecal
contamination on livestock and poultry carcasses. Visual inspection and carcass
cleaning are the standard tools for reducing the potential for E. coli and
other bacterial contaminants in slaughterhouses across the country. But the
human eye is not sensitive enough to identify all of the fecal contamination
that can occur on carcasses, according to Casey, who works with Rasmussen at
the ARS National Animal Disease
Center in Ames, Iowa.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.