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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Hot Topics in Food Microbiology

Author
item Juneja, Vijay

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: August 24, 2002
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Escherichia coli is a bacterium whose importance ranges from its role as a host for recombinant DNA manipulations to being one of the most well-recognized foodborne pathogens. Most E. coli strains are considered to be part of the normal microflora of the intestinal tract of humans and other warm-blooded animals. Such strains are not only harmless, but may serve a useful function in the body by suppressing the growth of harmful bacterial species and by synthesizing appreciable amounts of vitamins. E. coli are gram-negative, catalase positive, oxidase- negative, facultative anaerobic short rods that are members of the family Enterobacteriaceae. It is classified as a coliform - a general term used to describe Gram-negative asporogenous rods that ferment lactose within 48 h and whose colonies are dark and exhibit a green sheen on agar such as eosin methylene blue. The presence of E. coli in water or foods has traditionally been considered an indication of direct or indirect fecal contamination and the possible presence of enteric pathogens. However, conflicting published reports suggest that the presence of E. coli even in high numbers does not necessarily signify that pathogens are present. Researchers have not established a correlation between levels of E. coli and pathogens on raw and ready-to-eat foods. Nevertheless, use of a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point approach, Good Manufacturing Practices, and consumer education are advocated to ensure safety of our food supply.

Last Modified: 4/16/2014
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