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K-State Researchers Awarded Nearly $1 Million to Test Remedies, Investigate Link Between E. Coli and Distillers' Grains
Date:8/21/2008

MANHATTAN, Kan., Aug. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A research team headed by Kansas State University E. coli O157:H7 expert T.G. Nagaraja has been tapped by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study both the connection between feeding distillers' grains and E. coli 0157:H7 in cattle and several strategies to reduce the presence of the naturally occurring pathogen in the animals.

The group has received a $939,220 National Research Initiative in Food Safety grant. Nagaraja, a university distinguished professor of microbiology, said the issue of meat safety is receiving full attention from both researchers and the meat industry and is being addressed.

"This research project will greatly enhance our understanding of the exact relationship between dietary distillers' grains and E. coli 0157:H7 in cattle, as well as provide us with an opportunity to look at novel ways to mitigate the potential risks of feeding this valuable co-product," Nagaraja said.

Distillers' grains are a byproduct of ethanol produced from cereal grains that are used in cattle feed. They are rich in fiber, energy and protein.

The research team will look at ways to reduce the amount of E. coli O157:H7 present, such as administering a probiotic, an experimental vaccine and feeding brown seaweed, a plant shown to have an effect in reducing E. coli O157:H7 prevalence in cattle. In addition, they also will study whether feeding varied amounts of the distillers' grain or making it dry or wet has an effect on the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 detected in the feces.

Along with Nagaraja, the research team includes K-State professors David Renter, Mike Sanderson and Dan Thomson, and doctoral student Megan Jacob.

The grant builds upon the long history of K-State researchers focusing on food safety. An example of that work that has direct application to the consumer comes from meat scientist Melvin Hunt.

"Despite care in food processing and provision, the
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