Canadian researches at University of Alberta have found a strain of E. coli bacteria that can survive even the Canadian government’s recommended temperature for cooking meat.
This revelation came after a student of Lynn McMullen, a food biologist at University of Alberta, found E. coli in cooked beef. “So our student came back,” Professor McMullen explained, “and said ‘This one survives 70 minutes at 140 F,’ and I said, ‘Wrong, E. coli doesn’t do that. Something’s wrong.’ ”
The usual strain of E. coli will be killed when heated to 140 F in less than a minute. These heat-resistant E. coli strains survived at that temperature for more than 70 minutes.
Salt also makes E. coli bacteria heat resistant, though the reason for this phenomenon is unknown.
Escherichia coli or E. coli is a type of bacterium that lives in the intestines of healthy humans and animals. Some strains of E. coli are capable of producing a powerful toxin, known as Shiga toxin, and can cause severe, life-threatening illness.
Symptoms of E. coli
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infection include severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. The diarrhea may become bloody and can lead to dehydration. There is usually little or no fever. The infection (and its symptoms) will vary from individual to individual, ranging from a mild to a life-threatening illness.
The CDC reports that symptoms of E. coli food poisoning typically begin 3-4 days after eating a contaminated food; however, symptoms may occur anywhere from 1 to 10 days following pathogen exposure.
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