What is food to one man may be fierce poison to others - Lucretius 99 BC–55 BC
E. coli outbreaks hospitalize people and cause food recalls pretty much annually in the United States. This year is no different.
Obviously some E. coli can be deadly for people. But not all strains of these bacteria make you sick. In fact, you have a variety of strains of E. coli in your intestines right now – including one that’s busy making the antioxidant vitamin K, crucial for your and its survival.
Scientists like me often characterize E. coli by the sugar coat they display on their cell surface. A molecule called a lipopolysaccharide is the anchor that displays a collection of sugars to their environment.
These sugars help the bacteria stick to surfaces and reveal their identity to your immune system. Human cells do this, too – your blood type is defined by sugars displayed on your blood cells, for instance.
The sugars E. coli display vary from strain to strain. Some sugar coats are associated with strains living symbiotically in your stomach – E. coli HS, UTI89 and CFT073 are some of the most commonly found to be helpful. Others are associated with illness – like E. coli O104:H4, also called enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), which caused a major outbreak in Europe in 2011. According to the CDC, this latest outbreak is due to E. coli O157:H7 – a strain that’s caused at least one food-borne outbreak in the U.S. each year since 2006.
The letters and numbers that name a strain serve as a code for which sugars are present. While the sugars bacteria display aren’t what makes you sick, they’re quickly and easily detectable and help scientists and doctors differentiate whether a present strain will generate toxins that can make you ill.
Bacteria rely on what researchers term virulence factors: molecules that aid their survival while undermining your immune system. Both the EHEC and O157 strains of E. coli are able to make a virulence factor called a Shiga toxin. Shiga toxins were discovered first in Shigella dysenteriae, the bacterium that causes dysentery. Later researchers discovered that the EHEC and O157 strains of E. coli had gained the gene for Shiga toxins from the dysentery bacterium through a process called horizontal gene transfer.
When bacteria reach a critical mass in your body after you eat a contaminated food, they secrete these toxins as part of their strategy for finding a new host. The toxins enter the cells of your intestines, causing symptoms including low-grade fever, stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting.
It’s virulence factors like these that are to blame for human illnesses and that give E. coli a bad name – even if all strains don’t deserve it.
Source: Erika A. Taylor, Why are some E. coli deadly while others live peacefully within our bodies? The Conversation, April 24, 2018.
Blockchain is an initiative that must be fast tracked in order to reduce food borne illnesses and reinforce consumer trust in our food supply.
But in reality, we should probably be a little wary of lettuce all the time — not just when there’s a big E. coli outbreak. As sales of precut and bagged greens have boomed, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: They’re now one of the most common sources of food poisoning in the US.
Before my illness, I was a healthy 22-year-old just out of college. But at some point, my doctors speculated, I must have eaten leafy greens contaminated by E. coli bacteria.
Rinsing fruit and vegetables under water helps rid the food items of soil, microorganisms and potential human pathogens such as E. coli, listeria and salmonella, according to Sanja Ilic, an assistant professor and food safety specialist at Ohio State University.
However, it’s not a straightforward practice.
Raw vegetables and fruits are often a source for E. coli because the bacteria can't be fully washed off. Thoroughly cooking produce will kill the bacteria, but that's the only way to be certain contaminated fruits and vegetables are safe. Raw vegetables are not the only food that can be contaminated, though.
Here are five other foods that you'll see recalled from time to time because of E. coli, along with tips on how to safely prepare them.
Shiga toxin is nasty stuff. If you are infected with a Shiga-producing bacterium, like Shigella dysenteriae or some E. coli strains, there is no clear treatmen
People are quite rightly increasingly concerned about antibiotic resistant bacteria and the search for new diagnostic tools and medicines, but we must never lose focus on simply preventing these infections from occurring in the first place.
Cows raised at pasture are not immune to deadly E. coli bacteria.
Occasional outbreaks like this are pretty much unavoidable, as they are often linked to fresh fruits or vegetables—so a restaurant that focuses on fresh, unprocessed ingredients, actually is more likely to have a problem.
E. coli is an intestinal pathogen. It only gets in the food if fecal matter gets in the food. Since plants don’t have intestines, all E. coli infections—in fact all food poisoning—comes from animals.
Despite advances in medical science, bugs such as E. coli will always be one step ahead of us. Every now and then they will emerge with a vengeance as they spread illness and in extreme cases, death. Always try to find out where your produce comes from and never assume that your food is clean.
Are sprouts wreaking havoc abroad? Unclear. But one thing's for certain—the U.S. could experience a similar disaster.
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Pure-food worshippers put their health at risk—especially when they drink unpasteurized milk.
In fact, the origin of E. coli O157:H7, a bacterium first described in the 1970s and currently the most well studied shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) strain, also (despite conventional wisdom) remains elusive.
You have a variety of strains of E. coli in your intestine, including one that’s busy making the antioxidant vitamin K crucial for your and its survival.
Surveillance & analysis on E, Coli news and outbreaks.
The E. coli Genome Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison had its genesis in an editorial by Frederick R. Blattner in the November 18, 1983 issue of Science, in which he raised the idea of completely sequencing the E. coli (and human) genomes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 73,000 cases of Escherichia coli O157:H7, occur annually in the United States. Every year, 2,100 Americans are hospitalized, and 61 people die as a direct result of E. coli infections and its complications.
The Tennessee State Department of Health and CDC are collaborating with public health officials in multiple states and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) to investigate an ongoing multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections in humans.
Most cases of E. coli 0157:H7 illnesses have occurred after eating undercooked ground beef.
Escherichia coli (abbreviated as E. coli) are a large and diverse group of bacteria. Although most strains of E. coli are harmless, others can make you sick. E. coli O157:H7 is a kind of E. coli that can cause disease by making a toxin called Shiga toxin. Often when you hear news reports about outbreaks of E. coli infections, they are talking about E. coli O157:H7.
Escherichia Coli Infections