This study compared sampling methods for detecting Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella in beef cattle feces and on hides and carcasses and for enumerating E. coli biotype I counts (ECC) on carcasses. Fecal samples were collected by rectal/colonal palpation and colonal sponge swabbing. Hides were sampled by sponge swabbing three sites, hair clipping, excision, rinsing, and gauze swabbing, whereas carcasses were sampled by three-site thoracic and pattern-mark sponge swabbing and tissue excision. Overall, irrespective of sampling method, 36.7, 13.3, and 0.0% of lots contained at least one E. coli O157:H7-positive hide, fecal, and carcass sample, respectively, while the corresponding prevalence of Salmonella was 70.0, 16.7, and 6.7%, respectively. For hide sampling, excision and gauze swabbing yielded the fewest (13.3%) E. coli O157:H7-positive samples, while hair clipping and sponge swabbing yielded the most (23.3%). None of the carcass-sampling methods detected E. coli O157:H7 or differed (P > 0.05) in their ability to enumerate ECC. Colonal swabbing was the most effective (10.0%) method for detecting E. coli O157:H7 in feces. No differences (P > 0.05) in Salmonella prevalence were observed between carcass-sampling methods, although three-site sponge swabbing and tissue excision detected the most (3.3%). Hide rinsing was the most effective (P < 0.05) Salmonella detection method (63.3%), but dangers associated with its application may preclude its use by industry; there were no differences (P > 0.05) among other hide-sampling methods. No differences (P > 0.05) in Salmonella detection were observed between fecal-sampling methods. Overall, three-site sponge swabbing was the most feasible and effective sampling method for the detection of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella on hides and carcasses.

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