What is E. coli?
Escherichia coli (E. coli) are common bacteria which live in the intestines of warm blooded animals. There are certain forms (strains) of E. coli which are normally found in the intestine of healthy people and animals without causing any ill effects, however some strains are known to cause illness in people.
The most important VTEC strain to cause illness in the UK is E. coli O157. This can be found in the intestine of healthy cattle, sheep, goats and a wide range of other species. Humans may be infected by consuming food or water that has become contaminated by faeces from infected animals.
Infection may also result from direct or indirect contact with animals that carry VTEC or from exposure to an environment contaminated with animals faeces, such as farms and similar premises with animals which are open to the public. In these cases the bacteria are transferred from contaminated material to the mouth when proper hand hygiene advice is not followed. The infectious dose of VTEC O157 is very low at less than 100 bacterial cells. Infection is readily spread between family contacts, particularly those who may be caring for infected children, and in settings such as children’s day nurseries.
Guidance on E. coli
The Food Standards Agency has issued guidance for food businesses to clarify the steps that they need to take to control the risk of food becoming contaminated by E.coli O157 and what businesses should be doing to protect their customers.
The Food Standards Agency's Guidance Document 'E. coli O157: Control of Cross Contamination', requires Food Business Operators to ensure that, where necessary, they are using appropriate disinfectants that meet the requirements of British Standards BS EN 1276 or BS EN 13697 to disinfect food contact surfaces and equipment. You will find an up to date list of disinfectants that meet the requirements of British Standards BS EN 1276 or BS EN 13697 in the link below. The list is subject to regular updates and products may be added or removed at any time.
For further information please contact the Food Safety Team on (01273) 292161 or by emailing using the link on the right hand side of the page.