Update – Science breakthrough: There’s a drug we can give to cows that, instead of being a problem for meat-eating humans, might actually be beneficial to them, because it can help prevent outbreaks of food-borne illnesses caused by a nasty strain of e-coli bacteria. It’s a better cure than beef slime!

Microbiologist Vanessa Sperandio says, “If we can find a way to prevent these bacteria from ever colonizing in cattle, it’s possible that we can have a real impact on human disease.” This is important because an estimated 70 to 80% of the US cattle herds carry the e-coli bacteria. Cooking kills it, but what if you like your beef rare?

But becoming a vegetarian won’t help, because e-coli is not just found in meat: Recent outbreaks in the US have also been found in spinach and raw sprouts. But cattle are the primary source for most e-coli infections, and when cattle waste reaches water sources near food crops, contamination can occur. Unsanitary slaughtering of cattle also can lead to cross-contamination of the beef itself, and shipment of infected food speeds the rate at which the public can become ill.

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