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Bacteria meets its match in the Meat Science Lab

Crystal Lopez isn’t squeamish.

The animal sciences senior has worked at the UA Animal Sciences Meat Science Laboratory for more than three years. The job requires her to come in close contact with the carcasses of freshly harvested animals.

The lab has facilities to slaughter and store cattle as well as other animals. Within 24 hours of the harvesting, all cattle must be tested for E. coli based on food safety protocol set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Testing the animals is one of Lopez’s primary jobs. A carcass is chosen at random for Lopez to swab and test each week.

Lopez walks down the hall of the lab during her Thursday shift, dressed in a white coat reaching past her ankles and a hairnet. She opens the door of the meat freezer to reveal about 12 beef carcasses hanging from the ceiling and beef heads with eyes still intact.

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