Can the high levels of human verocytotoxigenic Escherichia coli O157 infection in rural areas of NE Scotland be explained by consumption of contaminated meat?
Article first published online: 3 SEP 2007
Journal of Applied Microbiology
Volume 103, Issue 6, pages 2616–2621, December 2007
How to Cite
Solecki, O., MacRae, M., Ogden, I. and Strachan, N. (2007), Can the high levels of human verocytotoxigenic Escherichia coli O157 infection in rural areas of NE Scotland be explained by consumption of contaminated meat?. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 103: 2616–2621. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2007.03518.x
- Issue published online: 3 SEP 2007
- Article first published online: 3 SEP 2007
- 2007/0471: received 26 March 2007, revised 23 May 2007 and accepted 8 June 2007
- E. coli;
- E. coli O157;
- minced meat;
Aims: To determine if contamination levels of Escherichia coli O157 and generic E. coli in retail-minced meat products are greater in rural shops compared with urban shops in Grampian, NE Scotland. We also investigated whether meat from supermarkets and meat from local butcher shops had a similar bacteriological quality.
Methods and Results: Minced beef and minced lamb were tested from November 2004 to August 2006. Escheichia coli O157 was found at low levels in four samples out of 530 tested samples (0·75%). Generic E. coli were present in 11% of the samples tested, of which 67% came from supermarkets. We observed no significant difference in the prevalence of generic E. coli between rural and urban areas.
Conclusions: Low levels of contamination with E. coli O157 and generic E. coli in retail meat suggest that meat is not a major route of infection in NE Scotland.
Significance and Impact of the Study: The study does not suggest that the high incidence of E. coli O157 human infection in the rural areas of Grampian is because of meat consumption – this provides further evidence of contact with animals or water being the routes of infection. Hence, risk mitigation should be focussed more on environmental pathways of infection.