Effects of Ractopamine HCl on E. coli and Salmonella In Vitro and on Intestinal Populations and Fecal Shedding in Sheep and Pigs

By Edrington TS, Callaway TR, Smith DJ, Genovese KJ, Anderson RC and Nisbet DJ, USDA's Agricultural Research Service - The effects of the beta-agonist ractopamine, approved for use in finishing swine and cattle to improve carcass quality and performance, were examined on two important foodborne pathogens, Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella.
calendar icon 19 May 2006
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Ractopamine, administered to sheep before and after oral inoculation with E. coli O157:H7, increased (P < 0.01) fecal shedding and tended to increase (P = 0.08) cecal populations of the challenge strain. Pigs receiving ractopamine in the diet and then experimentally infected with Salmonella Typhimurium, had decreased (P < 0.05) fecal shedding and fewer (P = 0.05) liver samples positive for the challenge strain of Salmonella.

Pure cultures of E. coli O157:H7 (used in the present sheep study), E. coli O157:H19 (isolated from pigs with postweaning diarrhea), Salmonella Typhimurium (used in the present pig study), and Salmonella Choleraesuis were incubated with varying concentrations of ractopamine to determine if ractopamine has a direct effect on bacterial growth.

No differences in growth rate were observed for either strain of E. coli or for Salmonella Typhimurium when incubated with increasing concentrations of ractopamine. The growth rate for Salmonella Choleraesuis was increased with the addition of 2.0 mug ractopamine/ml compared with the other concentrations examined.

Collectively, these results indicate that ractopamine may influence gut populations and fecal shedding of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella. Because ractopamine is currently approved to be fed to finishing cattle and swine immediately before slaughter, any potential for decreasing foodborne pathogens has exciting food safety implications.

Source: USDA's Agricultural Research Service - June 2006

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