E-coli is a misunderstood bacterium as most strains are generally harmless. In fact, it actually helps us with digestion and provides essential vitamins like K and B-complex. But not all strains of e-coli are harmless, particularly e-coli 0157:H7 and 01014.
A common source of e-coli is the intestinal tract of cattle. The Food Safety Agency and other safety agencies around the world are working with farmers and slaughter houses to reduce the risk of e-coli contamination by improving hygiene practices.
E-coli usually spreads via the faecal oral route, food vehicles and water.
Outbreaks have been linked to spinach, milk, pasteurised fruit juices and, most recently, salad leaves and blue cheese. The deadliest outbreak was in 2011 in Germany where more than 30,000 people were ill and 43 died from a rare strain of e-coli that was eventually linked to sprouted fenugreek seeds.
According to the WHO this ‘super toxic’ strain of the e-coli 0104 had never been seen before in people and is more virulent and toxin-producing than others. Consequently, it affects everyone, not just the more vulnerable groups as is more common with e-coli 0157.
In order to minimise the risk of an e-coli outbreak, controls need to be put in place throughout the food pathway. The responsibility for providing safe food lies with everyone, not just caterers. Farmers, food manufacturers and distributors all have a part to play in maintaining a safe food pathway.
The STS Food Safety Standard: Protecting the Most Vulnerable is the only UKAS accredited food safety audit standard which targets the controls in place for specific food borne illnesses. Our experts will help you identify and manage the risks and put measures in place to protect your business, customers and reputation.
Call our team today on 01252 728 300 to find out what you need to do to prevent an e-coli outbreak.