Human Practices

Within the context of our project, we chose to target a problem close to home- preventing contamination in beef products. Our goal is to detect enterohemorrhagic E. coli in beef products and minimize outbreaks. To deal with this pervasive problem in the beef industry, we consulted and worked with key "steakholders" at crucial points of the development process. These conversations shaped our entire project and are the foundation of our human practices. Our methodology toward human practices was to tailor our detection system to the end users of the system. We made the following achievements in our human practices:

  • Informed design: Input from four key industry stakeholders was used to redefine our project. Through these conversations, we assessed management of E. coli in the current industry and refocused our energy to build a novel tool for management of this pathogen prior to slaughter. We used input from these stakeholders to ensure that our system is easy to use, cost effective, and ultimately feasible for its application.

  • Biological and user safety: Our final prototype is comprised of in vitro protein components from recombinant bacteria. This design alleviates concerns over escape of synthetic organisms into the outside environment. We also thought about the sensitivity requirements for differentiating E. coli shedding in beef cattle, particularly with regard to false positives and false negatives.