Foodborne Illness & Your Family

June 10, 2011

What you need to know about the E.coli outbreak in Europe and how to stay safe in the kitchen

Since the deadly Escherichia coli broke out in Europe despite stringent food-safety standards – and the United States has been far from perfect as a protector of its own food pipeline – can we ever be too careful?

SupermarketGuru says no and urges U.S. farmers, packers, food processors, retailers and consumers to renew their commitment to food safety to eliminate contact between produce and cattle feces and to follow measures like washing hands and rinsing food. Further, the new U.S. food safety law should be reviewed to possibly include testing for this fatal strain, Shiga toxin-producing E.coli O104 (STEC O104:H4), as well as more specific steps to prevent E.coli contamination in general.

The source of the bacteria – remains unknown (several sources have been suspect but nothing definite), according to the World Health Organization. The WHO reference and research center in Denmark has confirmed that this strain has been seen in humans before, but never in an outbreak.

Doubtless, scientists will continue to investigate and health agencies worldwide will monitor until the danger has passed. When the full story comes out, as it eventually will, the U.S. should learn from every aspect that’s discovered to prevent such needless suffering in this country.

For up to date info on food recalls visit the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service

For food safety tips click here