Progressive Beef’s First Pillar: Food Safety

I will never forget the day that I met Nancy Donley.  My favorite 10 year old and I had lunch with her after touring BPI’s lean finely textured beef facility last spring.  It is impossible to spend more than a few minutes with Nancy without being compelled to attain excellence in food safety measures.

Every child's life is precious...

Every child’s life is precious…

Nancy’s only son, Alex, was killed by Ecoli 0157:H7 in 1993.  Following his death, she became actively involved in volunteer efforts to improve food safety.  Nancy has voluntarily served as the President for STOP Foodborne Illness for more than 10 years, and currently also serves on the USDA’s National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection.

I truly cannot explain the emotion that I felt when I met Nancy.  It shook me to my very core.  As I look back on it, I view it as an incredible experience which prepared me for what was to come six months later.

  • I can tell you that I will never forget the passion and strength that Nancy exudes.
  • I can tell you that after meeting Nancy, I had a renewed motivation to proactively search for pre-harvest food safety measures to employ at my cattle feed yard.

ProgressiveBeefLogoGreenIt was Nancy and Alex that I thought of the day that the Progressive Beef team sat in my office and told me about a new E Coli 1057 vaccine that can be administered pre-harvest in order to significantly reduce Ecoli pathogens in the intestines of cattle.  As I learned more about the new vaccine technology, I knew that it was something that I was going to implement at my feed yard.

It is my passion to responsibly grow beef.  It is my passion to provide safe and healthy nourishment to my family and to yours.  It is my passion to do the right thing.

Combining this pre-harvest food safety measure with all of the post-harvest measures that my packing plant partner utilizes will effectively increase the safety of the beef that I grow.

I am her Mama--I want to nourish and protect her...

I am her Mama–I want to nourish and protect her…

I began using the E. Coli vaccine in December and we are currently transitioning toward administering it to all newly placed cattle at the feed yard.  By this summer, every animal on my farm will have received the vaccine.

The cost of the vaccine is $2.50 per dose and must be used in a multiple dose vaccination program.  The cost of not using the vaccine is evident in Nancy Donley’s eyes as she talks about the little boy that she lost so many years ago.

This vaccine helps me to make a real contribution to food safety.

This vaccine helps me to make a real contribution to food safety.

Every time that I administer the vaccine, I think of Alex and I thank God for my own daughters who bring such joy and vibrancy to my life.  They, like Nancy, are a constant source of inspiration to me as I search for better ways to raise safe and healthy beef.

When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle
       is wrought in our life or the life of another.
                                                                       – Helen Keller


Filed under CAFO, General, Progressive Beef QSA Program

15 responses to “Progressive Beef’s First Pillar: Food Safety

  1. iowafarm

    Thanks for the heads-up on the E. coli vaccine. We vaccinate our home herd of course with this, but not feeders we buy…I will definitely look into it. One question: why must beef producers use the term “harvest” when talking about slaughter or butchering? Do you think it “politically correct” and therefore justifiably sanitized? Really. Harvest is for grains and legumes.

    • I have always used the term “harvest” and it is just a habit of mine. We harvest lots of things on our farm: cattle, alfalfa, corn, wheat, soybeans…and my husband and I use the word harvest universally for the products that we grow. Perhaps it is a product of my upbringing outside of agriculture? I don’t know, but it is a personal habit to use it. I am certainly not opposed to using the word slaughter/butchering–it just isn’t what I usually call it. I do not feel the need to use the word “harvest” in order to justify killing animals for food consumption, it simply is the word that flows out of my mouth the easiest.

      In terms of food safety measures, I have always heard the term as either “pre-harvest” or “post-harvest” obviously depending on whether the food safety measures are used while the animal is on the ranch/feed yard or at the packing plant. I do not know the origin of those terms being used, but in any food safety meeting that I have attended, the word harvest is used.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      All the best,

      • iowafarm

        Thanks Anne….

      • Looking back on your comment (and Shaun’s too) I want to clarify that the vaccine that I am now using at the feed yard is a new Ecoli vaccine that specifically targets O157:H7–it is a different vaccine that you all are using on the ranch and exists purely to reduce O157:H7 levels in the intestine.


  2. We’re vaccinating against E coli and feeding a gut flora encapsulating supplement this year. Our primary goal is to avoid bacterial scours, of course. Have you heard of the encapsulation approach or tried it? Keep up the good work! 🙂

    • iowafarm

      Can you elaborate on the “gut flora encapsulating supplement” please? Are you talking for the preggo cows?

    • Hi Shaun,

      I have heard of the encapsulation approach, and I have a neighboring feed yard that is using something like it with pretty good success. It is my understanding that the vaccine has a higher efficacy, and I have just chosen to go that route instead.

      I am glad to hear that you are using some measures on the ranch. I am currently working with my ranchers to help them start using the vaccine technology.

      I hope that all is well,

  3. As an aside, I talked with Dr. temple Grandin at the 2010 International Symposium on Beef Cattle Welfare at Kansas State University. She agreed that since many processors are using third-party video monitoring, the video streams should be made accessible to the public. The processor execs were against the idea. Consumers know that animals are being harvested (or killed and slaughtered) to provide their food; my thought is that they should be allowed to view the process if they want to. Any thoughts?

    • I agree with you, Shaun. I believe that the process should be transparent to those folks that would like to see it. I have spent time in three different packing plants and believe that the process is very professionally done and as humane as possible.

      I know that Dr. Grandin is a big advocate for transparency–she did a fabulous job making a video that describes and shows the process. I believe that she worked with AMI to produce the video. I will look around for the link and get it posted here sometime soon.


  4. Lauren

    Hi. My name is Lauren Davis and I am a student at Cardinal Newman High School. Your blog is very interesting!

    • Hi Lauren! It is great to hear from you. I am glad that you stopped by to read and hope that you will continue to follow. I have many great memories at Cardinal Newman, and I am sure that you know my mom (Mrs. Gibson).

      Please feel free to ask me questions if you have any–I love to hear from my readers. You can sign up to receive an email every time that I post, or can also “like” Feed Yard Foodie on facebook.

      All the best from Nebraska!

  5. Pingback: Sustainable: The Ability to Endure… | Feed Yard Foodie

  6. I was curious if you ever thought of changing the page layout
    of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve
    got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content
    so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for
    only having 1 or two pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

  7. Pingback: Research shows hope for natural vaccines to control disease | Herpes Survival Kit

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