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How to guard against Escherichia coli?

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News of 16/06/2011

16 June 2011

Since May, an epidemic due to a bacteria of the Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) group found in bean sprouts has hit Germany and several other European countries. Since yesterday, several cases linked to a bacteria of the same group found in meat have been reported in France. According to the initial analyses conducted, it appears that the bacteria is a separate variant from the one found in Germany. ANSES is therefore issuing these recommendations to consumers to guard against this type of bacteria.

Raw vegetables should be washed very thoroughly.

Raw (i.e. unpasteurised) milk should be boiled before being served to very young children (under age five).

STEC are temperature sensitive, so cooking is likely to partially or totally destroy any of these bacteria contained in food. Various health and safety authorities recommend maintaining a core temperature of 70°C for two minutes when cooking steak and minced beef. It is therefore recommended that hamburgers, especially those served to young children, be cooked until well-done.

Observing general hygiene practices in the kitchen is essential for preventing cross-contamination between raw and cooked foods. Here are some general recommendations:

  • Always wash hands after handling raw meat or vegetables
  • Wash work surfaces in contact with raw foods
  • Be sure to wash dishes containing raw meat before using them again for cooked meat (this frequently occurs when preparing a barbecue, since the cooked meat is often returned directly to the same dish used for the raw meat).

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