Escherichia coli or more commonly known as E. Coli is bacteria that lives within the intestines of people & animals. Most E. Coli is harmless and is an essential part of a healthy human intestinal tract. There are other types of E. Coli that are pathogenic causing illness on the outside of the intestinal tract. The pathogenic types are usually transmitted through food or drinks that have been contaminated. Other ways of transmission include contact with animals or persons that are contaminated.
STEC or Shiga toxin-producing E. coli can cause severe foodborne illness. It is transmitted by eating raw or undercooked ground meat products, raw milk, & contaminated raw vegetables. STEC produces toxins known as Shiga-toxins that can grow in temperatures ranging from 44.6 degrees Fahrenheit to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. STEC can be destroyed by cooking foods until it reaches a temperature of 158 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
- Abdominal cramps
Ground Beef – When cattle are slaughtered, the E. coli that lives in their intestines have a chance of getting onto the meat. Ground beef itself combines meat from many different animals, increasing this risk.
Fresh Produce – Sometimes water is contaminated & the cattle end up drinking that contaminated water. This leads the cattle to contaminate the fresh produce that is vulnerable to this type of contamination.
Unpasteurized Milk – E. coli that resides on a cow’s udders or on the milking equipment has a strong possibility of contaminating the milk.
Water – E. coli can come from water that you might accidentally swallow in a pool or other body of water.
Some are more likely to expose themselves or be exposed to the contamination of E. coli than others. These risks are included but not limited to:
Age – Adults and children are more prone to E. coli illness
Weak Immune System – Anyone with weak immune systems will more than likely get sick.
Certain Foods – Most undercooked meat, unpasteurized milk, cheese made from raw milk, or apple juice produce a high risk of contamination.
Decreased Stomach Acid Levels – If you take any of the following medications to reduce your stomach acid, you risk the chance of getting an E. coli infection.
Practice safe food habits and avoid cross-contamination to avoid E. coli. Make sure to always keep your area clean at all times and never have the raw met touch the cooked meat. Always remember to cook your raw foods thoroughly to kill the STEM residing in it & make sure its the correct temperature before you eat it.
When it comes to growing and harvesting your own vegetables or fruits, be sure to keep all untreated fecal matter away from the fields. Make sure to sterilize all equipment used for harvest and keep it dry.