Research – Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and food: attribution, characterization, and monitoring

WHO

Strains of pathogenic Escherichia coli that are characterized by their ability to
produce Shiga toxins are referred to as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). STEC
are an important cause of foodborne disease and infections have been associated with a wide range of human clinical illnesses ranging from mild non-bloody
diarrhoea to bloody diarrhoea (BD) and haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS)
which often includes kidney failure. A high proportion of patients are hospitalized,
some develop end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and some die.
The Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH) has discussed the issue of STEC
in foods since its 45th Session, and at the 47th Session, in November 2015, it was
agreed that it was an important issue to be addressed (REP 16/FH, 2015)2
. To
commence this work, the CCFH requested the Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop a report compiling
and synthesizing available relevant information, using existing reviews where
possible, on STEC. The CCFH noted that further work on STEC in food, including
the commodities to be focused on, would be determined based on the outputs of
the FAO/WHO consultation.
The information requested by CCFH is divided into three main areas: the global
burden of disease and source attribution; hazard identification and characterization; and monitoring, including the status of the currently available analytical
methods. This report provides an overview of the work undertaken in response to
the request from the CCFH and provides the conclusions and advice of the Expert
Group based on the currently available information.

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