Beef E.coli: From Farm to Table?

CANADA - What do we know about E coli and its relationship to beef? By all accounts, not enough to stop beef ecoli recalls. Yet another outbreak of the E coli O157:H7 strain has shown up, this time in Canada.
calendar icon 2 August 2007
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On July 7, 2007 the CBC news reported that officials warned people not to eat certain fresh and frozen ground beef products sold at Canada Safeway and independent supermarkets because the meat may be contaminated with potentially deadly E. coli bacteria. Calgary-based Canada Safeway is voluntarily recalling the affected products from the marketplace. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reported five cases of illness from the products.

What is E. coli and where does it come from?

All cattle have a harmless strain of E. coli bacteria that is needed to digest food and a small percentage of cattle (usually from 2-3 percent but sometimes as high as 10 percent) also carry the E.coli 0157:H7 strain.

E. coli O157:H7 is one of hundreds of strains of the bacterium Escherichia coli. The numbers and letters 0157:H7 refer to those markers on the bacterium's surface and distinguish the harmful bacteria from other, and some harmless, types of E. coli.

In 1982 an investigation into an outbreak of colitis determined that E. coli was found to be a foodborne pathogen associated with hamburgers eaten from a fast food chain restaurant.

Since that time, scientists now believe that E. coli is spread via manure from one cow to another when they enter the slaughterhouse. From there, this potentially deadly bacteria can find its way into our food chain mainly from undercooked ground beef.

Source: Lawyers and Settlements
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