and microbial contamination between animals and humans “is nothing new,”
says a Lethbridge Research Centre scientist.
Tim McAllister was responding to a study, published this week, in which
researchers from McGill University and the University of Montreal
stated seemingly healthy livestock could pose a serious risk to human
health because of a “hidden reservoir” of bacteria they carry.
McAllister, a livestock feed biotechnology and nutrition specialist, said
scientists have known the relationship of bacteria and micro-organisms in
animals with humans since the 1930s.
Suggesting the vaccination of all animals to reduce the incidence of
bacteria and micro-organisms to reduce contact with humans makes no sense,
While maintaining animal health and nutrition and providing adequate
shelter may help enhance an animal’s immune system, McAllister said it
should not be considered to reduce the likelihood of organisms making
Consumers must remember there are bacteria and micro-organisms on
everything in the world
“If we worried about bacteria and micro-organisms, we would all have to
live in a glass bubble,” said McAllister. “All the food we eat has bacteria
While there is nothing wrong with trying to minimize the bacteria and
micro-organism counts in food, he said ultimately it boils down to the last
thing one does before putting food in one’s mouth.
He said one of the greatest protections against food bacteria and
micro-organisms is proper food handling. For instance, placing raw chicken
on a cutting board poses no health problem once the chicken is cooked
properly. But placing lettuce on the same board that hasn’t been cleaned
can cause a problem before being eaten.
The other safeguard rests on the stove or barbecue. Cook your food
properly, said McAllister.
“You can give me hamburger laced with E-Coli 0157-H7 (the infamous
hamburger disease agent that caused deaths and illnesses at Walkerton,
Ont.), let me cook it, and I will always eat it,” he said.
Montreal-based researchers sampled thousands of “asymptomatic” pigs — those
that showed no signs of illness and would likely end up slaughtered and
sold as meat products.
McAllister said the major packing plants spend about $5 an animal during
processing to reduce the risk of contamination of foods.
Salmonella is another concern of the study researchers. McAllister said it
also falls into the category of proper food handling and proper food
cooking to completely make such foods in contact with salmonella safe to