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Researchers find way to reduce E. coli in cows, improving food safety

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A new biological treatment could help dairy cattle stave off uterine diseases and eventually may help improve food safety for humans, a University of Florida study shows.

Kwang Cheol Jeong, an assistant professor in animal sciences and UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute, examined cattle uterine illnesses because they can make cows infertile, lower milk production and because those maladies are often linked to bacteria, he said. The UF researchers did their experiments in labs and at the Dairy Unit on the Gainesville campus.

Jeong and his research team infused chitosan microparticles ─ an antimicrobial material derived from dissolved shrimp shells ─ into diseased cow uteri. When bought in stores, chitosan can be used to treat many ailments from obesity to anemia. On its own, chitosan only works at acidic pH levels, Jeong said. For cattle, Jeong’s team developed chitosan microparticles, which work in acidic and neutral pH, because cattle uteri have a neutral pH.

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