Researchers at Kansas State University have found that cattle fed a byproduct of ethanol production are twice as likely to carry a potentially deadly strain of E. coli bacteria.
The research will certainly be of interest in Nebraska, which ranks second in the number of cattle on feed and produces the second-most ethanol of any state. The state had nearly 2.5 million cattle on feed in 2005, and Nebraska's ethanol plants already have the capacity to produce more than 1 billion gallons of ethanol a year.
The E. coli 0157 strain studied in the Kansas State study is the same kind found in a series of recent illnesses and massive recalls of contaminated meat. The Kansas State University study itself did not link the ethanol byproducts to those specific cases.