E. Coli outbreak could be caused by salad.
Over 100 British people have been affected by the recent E. coli outbreak and health officials are looking at contaminated mixed leaves as the culprit.
So far, 109 people are known to have contracted the bug – 102 in England, with the South-west being the worst hit, six in Wales and one in Scotland. In reaction, Public Health England, says it has increased surveillance and is carefully monitoring the situation throughout the UK.
E. coli O157 infection can cause a range of symptoms, from mild diarrhoea to bloody diarrhoea with severe abdominal pain. It may also cause severe anemia or kidney failure in extreme cases. E. coli itself is an infection caused by coming into contact with the feces, or stool, of humans or animals. It is found in the gut of many animals and can be spread through contaminated food or water.
It cannot be certain that the infection has been caused by mixed salad leaves, but preliminary investigations have shown that the majority of the people affected consumed salad, containing rocket leaves, before getting ill. Public Health England (PHE) was informed of the outbreak at the end of June and the PHE’s Director of Field Epidemiology Service, Dr Isabel Oliver, has said:
“At this stage, we are not ruling out other food items as a potential source.”
Outbreaks of this strain of E. coli are rare in comparison to other food-borne diseases. Dr Oliver has also stated that people can protect themselves with thourough food hygiene, like, washing their hands and their fruit or vegetables before they eat them.
Other methods of avoiding E. coli infection include.
• Avoiding the preparation of raw vegetables with utensils that have also been used for raw meat
• Storing and preparing raw meat and unwashed vegetables away from ready-to-eat foods
• Cooking all minced meat products, such as burgers and meatballs, thoroughly
• Washing all vegetables and fruits that will be eaten raw
• Removing any loose soil before storing vegetables and salads
• Wash hands thoroughly after using the toilet, before and after handling food, and after handling animals
• People who have been ill should not prepare food for others for at least 48 hours after they have recovered