E. coli (or Escherichia coli) are a type of bacteria that thrive in the bowel of many animals—particularly livestock such as cattle, pigs, sheep, lamb and poultry, but also within humans. E. coli strains come in various forms. While some are harmless to humans or only mildly irritating (i.e., causing urinary tract infections), other E. coli strains (i.e., 0157:H7) produce harmful toxins in the lower intestine that attack the red blood cells, resulting in severe illness, bloody diarrhea, and potential kidney failure.
Most E. coli infections are caused by consuming contaminated food or drinking contaminated. Here are the top ten foods most likely to cause E. coli food poisoning…
Because E. Coli lives in the intestines of warm blooded mammals, the bacteria can get into the meat of slaughtered cattle are slaughtered or during processing as meat is handled or ground up.
E. coli bacteria is also rampant in raw milk—especially if it’s transferred via a cow’s udder or comes into contact with milking equipment.
Make sure you thoroughly cook that pork chop! E. coli can thrive in meat processing factories due to improper handling of animal carcasses or due to improper sanitation.
Runoff from livestock farms poses a risk to nearby produce crops, trees, and fields. That’s why thoroughly washing fruit and vegetables tree is vital to banish any E. coli bacteria that might have transferred via the soil or irrigation water.
Lamb, particularly ground lamb, can also be contaminated with E. coli. If meat is undercooked, E. coli bacteria will remain active.
Both drinking and swimming in contaminated water—particularly well water in rural locations—can pose an E. coli threat if the water source becomes exposed to polluted storm water or agricultural runoff.
Center for Disease Control considers raw, ground, and undercooked turkey and chicken prime culprits of E. coli bacteria.
E. coli bacteria are often found in processed, sliced deli meats. That’s why it’s important to follow package directions closely as far as expiration dates, optimal refrigerator temperature, and to consume within days of opening.
Alfalfa sprouts have received a lot of flack as prime E. coli sources. Sprouts can become contaminated if they come in contact with animal or water contamination, are handled poorly during processing, or if they are stored improperly due to their high moisture content.
Restaurant goers can unknowingly put themselves at risk for E. coli if cooks or servers don’t wash their hands diligently after using the bathroom or handling raw or under cooked foods.