Effect of ractopamine HCl supplementation on fecal shedding of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella in feedlot cattle. Academic Article uri icon


  • The effects of the beta-agonist ractopamine, recently approved for use in feedlot cattle to improve carcass quality and performance, on fecal shedding Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella in feedlot cattle was examined. In the first study, 20 feedlot steers and heifers were randomly assigned to receive ractopamine or no ractopamine (control) by way of oral bolus for 28 days. Fecal samples were collected daily, and shedding of E. coli O157:H7 determined. When examined during the entire 28-day experimental period, ractopamine decreased (P = 0.0006) the percentage of cattle shedding E. coli O157:H7 (58% vs. 42% for control and ractopamine treatments, respectively). A second study was conducted in a commercial feedlot facility in the southwestern United States. Eighteen pens of cross-bred beef heifers (approximately 100 head/pen and 9 pens/treatment) were randomly assigned to receive either 0 (control) or 200 mg ractopamine/head x d(-1). Fresh fecal samples (30/pen) were collected off the pen floor before ractopamine supplementation and again after approximately 28 days of ractopamine supplementation (within a few days of slaughter); the samples were cultured for E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella. The percentage of animals shedding E. coli O157:H7 was decreased when data were pooled across replicates (P = 0.05) in ractopamine-treated cattle compared with controls. The percentage of animals shedding Salmonella tended to be higher (P = 0.08) with the ractopamine treatment when data were pooled across replicates. Although further research is required to confirm these results, the potential food safety implications of this research are intriguing.

published proceedings

  • Curr Microbiol

author list (cited authors)

  • Edrington, T. S., Callaway, T. R., Ives, S. E., Engler, M. J., Welsh, T. H., Hallford, D. M., ... Nisbet, D. J.

citation count

  • 17

complete list of authors

  • Edrington, TS||Callaway, TR||Ives, SE||Engler, MJ||Welsh, TH||Hallford, DM||Genovese, KJ||Anderson, RC||Nisbet, DJ

publication date

  • October 2006