Based on recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) causes approximately 230,000 cases of illness in the United States annually, and slightly more than 1 percent of these cases results in hospitalization and life-threatening complications. A new conference to be held May 27-29 at the Embassy Suites-Lincoln will present the latest research on STEC and progress in their prevention and control as sources of foodborne illness.

The conference will be the first conference combining the annual STEC CAP conference and the Governor's Conference on Food Safety. Invited speakers are leading experts on the biology and ecology of STEC and its development, transmission and epidemiology as well as experts on regulation and public policy, the food industry and consumer protection.

The research presented at the conference is funded by a five-year, $25 million grant from the USDA that currently involves 15 universities and other institutions nationwide. The universities involved are: North Carolina State University; the University of California-Davis; the University of Delaware; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; the New Mexico Consortium; USDA-Agricultural Research Service; New Mexico State University; University of New Mexico; Texas A&M University; University of Tennessee-Knoxville; Mississippi State University; Eastern Maryland Shore, and Alabama A&M University. Rod Moxley, Veterinary Science Professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is the Project Director.

"The long-term goal of the project is to reduce the occurrence and public health risks from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli in beef, while preserving an economically viable and sustainable beef industry," Moxley said. "This can only be accomplished by a multi-institutional effort that brings together complementary teams of the nation's experts whose expertise spans the entire beef chain continuum and then sharing the research findings through conferences such as this."

For more information about the conference, see www.stecbeefsafety.org.