E. coli in lamb and flour prompts warning in Germany

E. coli in lamb and flour prompts warning in Germany

by Sue Jones
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Findings of E. coli in lamb and flour has triggered a warning from German authorities.

Basic rules of kitchen hygiene, such as using different cutting boards for raw meat and vegetables, should be followed. Proper cooking is one of the best ways to avoid food poisoning from E. coli.

As part of zoonosis monitoring in Germany in 2020, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) were detected in 50 of 380 samples of fresh lamb.

Lamb from Germany was significantly more often STEC-positive than that from other countries with 36 of 190 samples positive compared to 12 of 177.

Consumers, especially small children, the elderly, the immunocompromised and pregnant women, should only consume lamb that has been well cooked, advised the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL).

“An infection with STEC should not be underestimated. In children in particular, it can lead to the development of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is often associated with acute kidney failure,” said Friedel Cramer, BVL president.

STEC was detected in 22 of 242 samples of wheat flour from milling operations. Consumers can minimize this risk by not eating raw dough, cake batter or other foods containing raw flour. E. coli was also found in six of 318 samples of raw milk soft cheese sold at retail, from wholesale and at import points.

In total, 94 isolates belonged to 28 different O serogroups with O146 as the most common while O157 was not detected.

Results for other pathogens and products
In zoonoses monitoring, data is collected on the occurrence of pathogens in animals, carcasses and food that can cause diseases in humans. For 2020, authorities in the federal states took 6,807 samples at all levels of the food chain.

Three of 437 samples of ground pork from retail stores and wholesalers were positive for Salmonella, as were 20 of 436 samples of fresh chicken and three of 377 samples of fresh lamb. Of 152 isolates available for typing, the most common type was Salmonella Infantis from broiler chickens.

Campylobacter was detected in 248 of 453 samples from fresh broiler meat in retail stores. Using a quantitative method, it was found in almost half of 416 neck skin samples from broilers at the slaughterhouse level but only 10 of 436 samples of fresh chicken meat in retail stores. From slaughterhouses, 91 samples were above 1,000 colony forming units per gram (CFU/g) but from retail none were and only four were between 100 and 1,000 CFU/g.

Listeria monocytogenes was found in 87 of 451 samples of fresh retail chicken meat but only one of 307 samples was above 100 CFU/g. It was also detected in one sample out of 346 soft cheeses made from raw milk but the level was below the detection limit of the quantitative method.

Eleven of 386 samples of fresh lamb meat were contaminated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Some fresh chicken, ground pork and fresh lamb tests revealed extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)/AmpC-producing E. coli.

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