|Script: What is E. coli
Welcome to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service
"Food Safety At Home" podcast series, featuring topics for the safe
handling, preparation and storage of meat, poultry and processed
egg products. So, sit back, turn up the volume and listen in.
What is E. coli?
E. coli is short for Escherichia coli.
E. coli is a type of bacteria that normally lives
in the intestines of animals and humans. There are hundreds of different
kinds, or strains, of E. coli, some of which are
harmful, but most of which are not.
E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium
that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration and Hemolytic Uremic
Syndrome (HUS). HUS is a disease that destroys red blood cells,
is the most common cause of sudden, short-term—acute—kidney failure
Pregnant women, young kids, infants, older adults, persons with
HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy have weakened immune systems,
and are thus most susceptible to foodborne illness caused by
E. coli O157:H7 and other pathogens.
Eating contaminated undercooked ground beef can cause E. coli
O157:H7 infection. Consuming contaminated unpasteurized milk or
juices, dry cured sausage and raw vegetables, like spinach, have
also been linked to E. coli illnesses.
To protect yourself and your family from E. coli O157:H7
infection, it is important to keep these simple steps in mind: Clean,
Separate, Cook and Chill!
Clean: Wash hands often with soap and warm water.
Use clean dishes, spoons, knives and forks. Wash countertops with
hot soapy water and clean up spills right away.
When preparing raw meat or poultry, remember to thoroughly wash
all surfaces that have come in contact with raw meat or its juices
with hot, soapy water.
Separate: Keep other food that will not be cooked
away from raw meat, fish and poultry to avoid cross-contamination.
Cook: You should only eat ground beef or ground
beef products that have been cooked to a safe internal temperature
of 160 °F. The only way to be sure ground beef has been thoroughly
cooked is to use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature.
Remember that color is not a reliable indicator of doneness.
Chill: Follow the “2 Hour Rule.” Refrigerate or
freeze foods within 2 hours – in hot weather conditions above 90
°F, refrigerate or freeze within 1 hour. Don't leave meat, fish,
poultry or cooked food sitting out.
Remember to always Be Food Safe and Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill
to reduce your risk of foodborne illness.
Thanks for listening to this Food Safety At Home podcast. Let
us know what you think of this podcast by sending your comments
Thanks for tuning in.
Last Modified: February 16, 2011