Category Archives: E.coli O157

Research – Application of continuous-type pulsed ohmic heating system for inactivation of foodborne pathogens in buffered peptone water and tomato juice

Science Directl


The purpose of this study was to inactivate Escherichia coli O157:H7, SalmonellaTyphimurium, and Listeria monocytogenes by continuous-type pulsed ohmic heatingin buffered peptone water (BPW) and tomato juice. First, BPW inoculated with the three pathogens were treated at different flow rates (0.2–0.4 LPM) and treatment voltages (9.43–12.14 Vrms/cm). Both heating rate of BPW and reduction rates of pathogens increased corresponding to decreased flow rate. Accordingly, higher numbers of pathogens survived at a higher flow rate (0.4 LPM). Increasing treatment voltage was an effective way to inactivate pathogens at 0.4 LPM, but the heating rate overly accelerated with increasing voltage adversely affecting food quality. Alternatively, increasing initial temperature by preheating can help inactivate pathogens in the early treatment stage without affecting heating rate. From the BPW experiments, we identified that treatment conditions such as flow rate, voltage, and initial temperature are important factors determining pathogen inactivation performance of continuous-type ohmic heating. When applied to tomato juice, 5 log reductions of all three pathogens were achieved by applying 12.14Vrms/cm ohmic heating with 0.2 LPM flow rate after preheating sample to 50 °C with a water bath. Quality aspects of color and lycopene content were observed, and a and b values decreased after treatment. Because preheating with additional equipment is inconvenient and occupies valuable space, we developed sequential three cylinder type ohmic heating. By applying the developed sequential ohmic heating, 5 log reductions were achieved for all three pathogens without preheating under the same treatment conditions. Therefore, we concluded that sequential continuous-type ohmic heating can be used utizied effectively to control foodborne pathogensby the juice industry.

Summary of the last two weeks RASFF Alerts – STEC E.coli – Frozen Minced Meat – Chilled Beef


RASFF – shigatoxin-producing Escherichia coli (O157:H7, O26:H11) in frozen beef minced meat with raw material from Spain in France

RASFF – shigatoxin-producing Escherichia coli (stx2+) in chilled beef from Argentina in Italy

USA – FDA Sampling of Romaine Lettuce in Yuma Finds No Widespread STEC or Salmonella Contamination

Food Safety Tech

Following last year’s widespread E.coli O157 outbreak involving romaine lettuce linked to the Yuma, Arizona growing region (Spring 2018), FDA launched a sampling assignment to test romaine lettuce for pathogenic Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and Salmonella spp. The microbiological surveillance samplingbegan on December 18, 2018 in the Yuma region and focused on 26 commercial coolers and cold storage facilities to allow FDA to sample multiple farms from several locations at once. The agency collected and tested a total of 188 samples for both pathogens. It did not detect Salmonella in any sample; STEC was detected in one sample, but additional analysis found that the bacteria was not pathogenic.

“The findings of this assignment suggest that there was no widespread Salmonella or STEC contamination of romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region during the period when sampling occurred. As a next step, the FDA is working with leafy green stakeholders in the Yuma region to consider a longer-term environmental study to identify and control risks that will prevent future outbreaks, with the ultimate goal of protecting consumers. – FDA

The point of the sampling assignment was to determine whether target pathogens were present, and if so, to respond quickly before contaminated products reached consumers.

Research – Occurrence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Pest Flies Captured in Leafy Greens Plots Grown Near a Beef Cattle Feedlot

Journal of Food Protection


Leafy greens are leading vehicles for Escherichia coli O157:H7 foodborne illness. Pest flies can harbor this pathogen and may disseminate it to produce. We determined the occurrence of E. coli O157:H7–positive flies in leafy greens planted up to 180 m from a cattle feedlot and assessed their relative risk to transmit this pathogen to leafy greens. The primary fly groups captured on sticky traps at the feedlot and leafy greens plots included house flies (Musca domestica L.), face flies (Musca autumnalisL.), stable flies (Stomoxys calcitrans L.), flesh flies (family Sarcophagidae), and blow flies (family Calliphoridae). E. coliO157:H7 carriage rates of house, face, flesh, and blow flies were similar (P > 0.05), ranging from 22.3 to 29.0 flies per 1,000 flies. In contrast, the carriage rate of stable flies was lower at 1.1 flies per 1,000 flies (P < 0.05). Differences in carriage rates are likely due to the uses of fresh bovine feces and manure by these different pest fly groups. E. coli O157:H7 carriage rates of total flies did not differ (P > 0.05) by distance (ranging from 0 to 180 m) from the feedlot. Most fly isolates were the same predominant pulsed-field gel electrophoresis types found in feedlot surface manure and leafy greens, suggesting a possible role for flies in transmitting E. coli O157:H7 to the leafy greens. However, further research is needed to clarify this role and to determine set-back distances between cattle production facilities and produce crops that will reduce the risk for pathogen contamination by challenging mechanisms like flies.

  • E. coli O157:H7 was common in flies captured in leafy greens plots near a feedlot.

  • E. coli O157:H7 carriage rates of house, face, flesh, and blow flies were similar.

  • Stable flies had lower E. coli O157:H7 carriage than the other four fly groups.

  • E. coli O157:H7 carriage of total flies was not affected by distance up to 180 m.

  • Research is needed to determine risk for leafy green contamination by pest flies.

Research – Ultrasound treatment combined with fumaric acid for inactivating food-borne pathogens in apple juice and its mechanisms

Science Direct


The combination of Ultrasound (US) and fumaric acid (FA) showed a synergistic bactericidal effect in apple juice.

US-FA combined treatment of apple juice did not affect quality.

Cell membrane damage was the main mechanism of US-FA synergistic lethal effect.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the synergistic bactericidal efficacy of combining ultrasound (US) and fumaric acid (FA) treatment against Escherichia coliO157:H7, Salmonella Typhimurium, and Listeria monocytogenes in apple juice and to identify the synergistic bactericidal mechanisms. Additionally, the effect of combination treatment on juice quality was determined by measuring the changes in color, pH, non-enzymatic browning index, and total phenolic content. A mixed cocktail of the three pathogens was inoculated into apple juice, followed by treatment with US (40 kHz) alone, FA (0.05, 0.1, and 0.15%) alone, and a combination of US and FA for 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 min. Combined US and 0.15% FA treatment for 5 min achieved 5.67, 6.35, and 3.47 log reductions in E. coli O157:H7, S.Typhimurium, and L. monocytogenes, respectively, with the 1.55, 2.37, and 0.57 log CFU reductions attributed to the synergistic effect. Although the pH value slightly decreased as FA increased, there were no significant (P > 0.05) differences in color values, browning indices, and phenolic content between untreated and treated samples. To identify the mechanism of this synergistic bactericidal action, membrane integrity, malfunctions in the membrane efflux pump, and intracellular enzyme activity were measured. The analyses confirmed that damage to the cell envelope (membrane integrity and efflux pump) was strongly related to the synergistic microbial inactivation. These results suggest that simultaneous application of US treatment and FA is a novel method for ensuring the microbial safety of apple juice.

Research – Whole Genome Sequencing Characterization of Shiga Toxin–Producing Escherichia coli Isolated from Flour from Swiss Retail Markets

Journal of Food Protection


Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains are often found in food and cause human infections. Although STEC O157:H7 is most often responsible for human disease, various non-O157 subtypes have caused individual human infections or outbreaks. The importance of STEC serogroup typing is decreasing while detection of virulence gene patterns has become more relevant. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) reveals the entire spectrum of pathogen information, such as toxin variant, serotype, sequence type, and virulence factors. Flour has not been considered as a vector for STEC; however, this product has been associated with several STEC outbreaks in the last decade. Flour is a natural product, and milling does not include a germ-reducing step. Flour is rarely eaten raw, but the risks associated with the consumption of unbaked dough are probably underestimated. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of STEC in flour samples (n = 93) collected from Swiss markets and to fully characterize the isolates by PCR assay and WGS. The prevalence of STEC in these flour samples was 10.8% as indicated by PCR, and a total of 10 STEC strains were isolated (two flour samples were positive for two STEC subtypes). We found one stx2-positve STEC isolate belonging to the classic serogroups frequently associated with outbreaks that could potentially cause severe disease. However, we also found several other common or less common STEC subtypes with diverse virulence patterns. Our results reveal the benefits of WGS as a characterization tool and that flour is a potentially and probably underestimated source for STEC infections in humans.

  • Several STEC serotypes, including O26, were isolated from 8 (8.6%) of 93 flour samples.

  • STEC isolates from flour had a variety of virulence patterns.

  • Flour is a probably underestimated source of STEC infections in humans.

  • WGS for STEC characterization is more comprehensive than common serotyping.

Research – Conditions at the time of inoculation influence survival of attenuated Escherichia coli O157:H7 on field-inoculated lettuce

Science Direct


Higher percentages of E. coli–positive plants recovered when inoculation was closer to harvest.

Higher relative humidity and leaf surface wetness were measured during night inoculation.

Short-term smaller initial population declines were observed after night inoculation.

E. coli population sizes were similar 2 or more days after night or day inoculation.

Probability of detecting E. coli was higher for longer times when inoculated at higher levels.


The impact of plant development, environmental conditions at the time of inoculation, and inoculum concentration on survival of attenuated BSL1 Escherichia coli O157:H7 strain ATCC 700728 on field-grown romaine lettuce was evaluated over 3 years. E. coli 700728 was inoculated onto 4- and 6-week-old romaine lettuce plants in the Salinas Valley, CA, at night or the next morning with either low (5 log) or high (7 log) cell numbers per plant to simulate a single aqueous contamination event. At night, when leaf wetness and humidity levels were high, E. coli cell numbers declined by 0.5 log CFU/plant over the first 8–10 h. When applied in the morning, E. coli populations declined up to 2 log CFU/plant within 2 h. However, similar numbers of E. coli were retrieved from lettuce plants at 2 and 7 days. E. coli cell numbers per plant were significantly lower (P < 0.05) 7 days after application onto 4-week-old compared to 6-week-old plants. E. coli 700728 could be recovered by plating or enrichment from a greater proportion of plants for longer times when inoculated at high compared with low initial concentrations and after inoculation of 6-week-old plants compared with 4-week-old plants, even at the low initial inoculum. A contamination event near harvest or when leaf wetness and humidity levels are high may enhance survivability, even when low numbers of E. coli are introduced.