New vaccine could inhibit spread of E. coli 0157

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: E. coli, Bacteria, Escherichia coli

Econiche, a new vaccine for cattle that aims to reduce the risk of food and waterborne contamination from E. coli O157:H7 bacteria, has received approval from the Canadian regulator.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said the information that developer, Bioniche Life Sciences, submitted to the agency demonstrates that the vaccine meets the efficacy and safety requirements in order to obtain full licensing.

Econiche can now be used by Canadian cattle producers and veterinarians, according to Bioniche.

The development will be of huge interest to meat processors as recalls linked to bacterial contamination can cause illness, as well as being costly and brand damaging.

Bioniche said its vaccine works by preventing the E. coli O157:H7 ​organism from attaching to the intestines of vaccinated cattle, thereby reducing their reproduction within the animal, and reducing the amount of bacteria that can be released through cattle manure in the environment.

According to the company, more than 30,000 cattle have been involved in clinical testing of the vaccine over the past five years.

E. coli

E. coliO157:H7​ is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhoea, dehydration and, in the most severe cases, kidney failure. Children, the elderly and those with weak immune systems are the most susceptible.

An estimated 100,000 cases of human infection with the E. coli O157:H7 ​bacteria are reported each year in North America.

Bioniche said that the vaccine will be manufactured in the Bioniche production facility in Belleville, Ontario, Canada where a two-year, $25m expansion is taking place, supported by the Ontario and Canadian governments.

US licence

The developer claims that it is concurrently working to meet the requirements for a US conditional licence for the vaccine.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) informed the company earlier this year that the latest data for its vaccine meets the ‘expectation of efficacy’ standard and is eligible for a conditional licence, providing that Bioniche develops a plan ‘that would collect sufficient data to move the product to full licensure’.

E. coli​ contamination is of particular concern to the US beef industry at present, with a number of large ground beef recalls earlier this year.

US food safety advocate and attorney William Marler said that​in the last year and a half, the US meat industry has been in a spiral of recalls, with more than 40 million pounds of meat tainted with E. coli O157:H7​ publicly recalled.

He claims that this is resulting in consumers being exposed to a completely unacceptable level of contaminated product.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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