E.coli infections more of a concern than MRSA
The Department of Health are very concerned about the rise in the number of people suffering from E.coli infections with cases on the rise to over 40,000 cases reported last year.
These figures are now higher than those of MRSA and Clostridium difficile. Not all of these cases will have been foodborne however it is thought that some recent outbreaks have been possibly linked with food items. Bagged salads, Scottish blue cheese and a butchers shop have all been implicated in illness incidents.
Why is E.coli such as problem?
Only small numbers of the bacterium are needed to make you ill; possibly as few as 10 bacteria can cause illness.
Certain strains (E.coli:O157) can cause kidney failure and death in 25% of cases as there is no known cure.
How to protect your business from causing an E.coli outbreak
It would be impossible to eliminate E.coli completely but reducing your risk is the best way forward.
1. Be aware that the main sources of E.coli are raw meat and unwashed raw vegetables.
2. Heating foods above 75oC for 30 seconds will kill E.coli.
3. Protect ready to eat foods by reducing cross-contamination risks.
- Colour coded chopping boards and other utensils.
- Separate areas for raw food preparation from those for ready to eat food where possible. If this is not possible, separate by time and disinfect between use.
- Separate out food in chilled storage with ready to eat food always being stored above raw food.
- Always cover ready to eat foods when in storage.
- Emphasise the importance of hand washing when finishing handling raw foods.
4. Always sanitise properly using the correct method and contact time.
5. Make sure that your sanitiser or disinfectant conforms to BS EN 1276. This website lists the names of those that comply. http://www.disinfectant-info.co.uk/