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BHA Issues Warning On E. Coli

BHA-LogoThe British hospitality Association (BHA) is highlighting the issue of E Coli, which, although ordinarily associated with undercooked burgers is found in other foods.

“E.coli is most often associated with undercooked burgers, but in fact it has been found in many other foods – as basically it is of faecal origin so can get into the food chain in many different ways”, said Dr Lisa Ackerley, BHA

There have been outbreaks associated with salad crops before, and a particularly nasty one in the USA was associated with spinach (wild animal faeces, turned to dust blew across a crop). Unpasteurised milk is another source, and there have been outbreaks in USA associated with unpasteurised apple juice where windfall apples, contaminated with wild animal faeces were the cause of the outbreak. Leeks and potatoes were associated with an outbreak in England, presumably via cross-contamination mistakes as these items are cooked. Soft fruit has been implicated, particularly if irrigation is from untreated effluent, or there are inadequate toilet and hand-washing facilities on the farm.

“Obviously removing any faecal source from food at all stages in the food chain is the best first course of action, so a good supplier is critical, but most wise caterers will take the following further precautions”:

  • Cook burgers to a temperature for a time that will give a thorough kill (see BHA burger Q and A) or use methods such as sear and shave etc as specified in the FSA guidance on less well cooked burgers

    Q&A on Medium and Rare Burgers


    https://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/guidancenotes/meatregsguid/less-than-thoroughly-cooked-beef-burgers

  •  Wash salad items, fresh herbs and soft fruits thoroughly using a salad wash and store away from contamination once washed
  •  Follow cross-contamination guidelines https://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/guidancenotes/hygguid/ecoliguide
  •  Remember to control cross-contamination of all root vegetables and unwashed salad items, not just meat and chicken
  •  Hand washing is critical after handing foods that may be contaminated and of course after the using the toilet
  •  If using frozen spinach or other vegetables for smoothies or health juices, check that these items are ready-to-eat as they may be intended for cooking only

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