Grain Feeding and the Dissemination of Acid-Resistant Escherichia coli from Cattle

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Science  11 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5383, pp. 1666-1668
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5383.1666

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The gastric stomach of humans is a barrier to food-borne pathogens, but Escherichia coli can survive at pH 2.0 if it is grown under mildly acidic conditions. Cattle are a natural reservoir for pathogenic E. coli, and cattle fed mostly grain had lower colonic pH and more acid-resistant E. coli than cattle fed only hay. On the basis of numbers and survival after acid shock, cattle that were fed grain had 106-fold more acid-resistantE. coli than cattle fed hay, but a brief period of hay feeding decreased the acid-resistant count substantially.

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