Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli in ground beef and lamb cuts: results of a one-year study.Int J Food Microbiol. 2006 Aug 15; 111(1):1-5.IJ
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) have been associated with a broad spectrum of diarrhoeal syndromes. Some of these cases have been attributed to foods of bovine origin or other foods cross-contaminated by beef products or cow manure. The purpose of this study was to determine the pattern of STEC distribution in selected red meats over time. Samples of ground beef and lamb cuts were collected over a 52-week period from 31 different outlets and 25 g portions were assayed for STEC. STEC were isolated from 46/285 (16%) ground beef and 111/275 (40%) lamb samples using an stx PCR screen followed by colony hybridisation. All isolates were tested by PCR for additional STEC virulence markers with 95% of ground beef isolates shown to possess stx(2) and 80% of lamb cutlet isolates shown to possess stx(1) and stx(2). The enterohaemolysin gene (ehxA) was detected in 65% and 53% of ground beef and lamb isolates respectively. Putative enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), i.e. STEC possessing the E. coli attaching and effacing gene (eae) were not isolated. The STEC isolates comprised 18 and 15 different serotypes from ground beef and lamb respectively. STEC of serotypes O157, O111 and O26 (common enterohaemorrhagic E. coli serotypes) were not isolated. Serotypes O174 and O91 were the most common serotypes isolated from ground beef samples and O128 and O91 the most common from lamb cutlet samples. The presence of STEC in retail red meats highlights the need for a clearer understanding of STEC in food and human illness to interpret the public health significance of these findings.