Escherichia coli (E.coli)

Many strains of E. coli are harmless and are found naturally in the gut of humans and animals.

escherichia_coliTraditionally its presence in foods has been an indication of faecal contamination of food or water. However, particular strains are pathogenic and traveller’s diarrhoea and haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) are caused by E. coli strains. See Travelling overseas food safety. Although pathogenic types are rare, in the last few years there have been several food poisoning outbreaks from certain strains of E. coli both in Australia and overseas.

A wide variety of foods have been implicated in this outbreaks, including unpasteurised apple and orange juices, sprouted seeds, fruit, raw milk cheese, salads and meat and meat products, especially undercooked minced meat patties in hamburgers.

E. coli is easily killed by heating so cooking food properly is a basic method of control. Water can also be a source of the bacteria.

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