Who’s Who #3

Germany’s got it, Sweden’s got it, Belgium’s got it.  And no one is admitting responsibility for the Escherichia coli outbreak, not surprising.  Fingers point quickly to Spain, but the original source is still to be determined.  E. coli, the mystery organism from Wednesday, has a new strain that is sweeping Europe and wrecking havoc.  So far, it has only been cucumbers, lettuce, and tomatoes that have been reported as potential sources of contamination.  But many are shying away from any raw fruits or vegetables just to be cautious.

Such outbreaks are a major concern for the agricultural industry.  Produce contamination is a serious health concern and often results in a recall of particular meat products or certain kinds of produce.  In such cases, traceability is key to finding the source of contamination, which can occur at any point from farm to table.  Once identified, steps are taken to minimize further distribution and spread.

More benign sources of E. coli are found in the intestine of warm blooded animals, like humans, and can be beneficial to its host by producing vitamin K.  With all the bad rap, it’s important to note that this bacteria is naturally occurring in a non-virulent form.

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