Understanding E.coli and limiting its spread.

October 9th, 2008

Although we tend to think of E.coli as coming specifically from meat products

Although we tend to think of E.coli as coming specifically from meat products, only 45% of documented outbreaks during the last eighteen years were attributed to food.

A USA TODAY article in Money section by Julie Schmit titled “Little-Known E.coli strain starts gaining notoriety “discusses just how little the general public knows about E. coli.

The above referenced article goes on to discuss the most common type of E.coli, which is E. coli 0157:H7. Most of us are aware of this strain which was responsible for the recall of thirty million pounds of meat in 2007. This strain was also believed to be responsible for the spinach outbreak during 2006. Another strain E.coli 0111 is beginning to gain notoriety which the USDA may begin to testing within months. Although the reactions to this and other non 0157 strains may be milder, they may in fact be responsible for a variety of illnesses that were not thought to be E.coli originally.

What procurement professionals can do to make sure they have the necessary safeguards in place when buying meat products is to check the certifications their incumbent or future suppliers have on file? These may differ depending on the country of origin. Certainly SQF and GFSI certifications should be in place. Other potential certifications might include ISO 22000 as well as American Humane Certified, Certified Humane Raised & Handled and others. SafeSourcing includes these data in our supplier database as well as the most recent certification dates and other practices that suppliers and processors may have in place that will mitigate risk that could lead to the cause of future outbreaks.

While meat products were a major contributor, other areas causing outbreaks were person to person contact, lake water and animal contact.

We look forward to your comments.

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