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Outbreak of E.coli and Food Safety

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CNN Wire Staff reported on September 25, 2011 that USDA has recalled beef consignment that was headed for Georgia school lunches (CNN Wire Staff, 2011). The report mentioned that “40,000 pounds of beef products” (CNN Wire Staff, 2011) were recalled due to suspected infection of E.coli. This step was taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as they suspected that the entire consignment was contaminated. The report also stated that the Beef products were being sent to Georgia where they were deemed to be stored in two warehouses. CNN Wire Staff (2011) mentioned that the “Beef products were intended for six school systems in Georgia”. This is an extremely serious issue as E.coli contamination is responsible for “bloody diarrhea, dehydration and, in severe cases, kidney failure” (CNN Wire Staff, 2011). It is also responsible for destroying immune system among babies and elderly population. Thankfully, the contamination of the consignment was suspected and detected early by the USDA and was barred from distribution in the schools.  

The seriousness of this issue is reflected in a separate incident in Germany as reported by WHO. The World Health Organization issued a global alert on 27 May 2011 that “An outbreak of severe illness is causing concern in Germany, where 3 women have died and 276 cases of haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) have been reported since the second week of May” (WHO, 2011). It should be noted that haemolytic uraemic syndrome is caused by Escherichia coli bacteria. However, unlike the Georgia case, the German fallout was only detected after the actual incidents of reported cases and it has become extremely serious as the outbreak is very rapid and the victims are mostly above the age of 18. Another major difference lies in the fact that the German E.coli contamination is fundamentally vegetable borne unlike its Georgian counterpart. Furthermore, in Georgia, the infection was easily controlled by the authority whereas, in Germany, it is already an epidemic and here the authorities are forced issue warning and precautionary measures that include “Regular hand washing, particularly before … passed from person to person, as well as through food, water and direct contact with animals” (WHO, 2011).

It should be noted that the scientific name of the referenced microorganism is Escherichia coli and it is gram negative bacteria that can be termed as a recombinant DNA. According to Lan, R. (2002) it is generally referred to as “facultative anaerobic and non-sporulating” and it can affect “human, mammal or bird”. The outbreak of Escherichia coli is a very serious matter as it affects individuals, public health, society because it is extremely infectious and can spread very rapidly causing epidemic within a very small period. As a result, on a personal level, the news of Georgia is extremely scary as it indicates a possible signal of a contagion that could cause serious toil on individual and society. It should be noted that the article on Georgia was accurate enough as it was reported by CNN and it is a very reliable source. However, the reference sources are more reliable because WHO is considered as the benchmark of food and health safety organization and the other reference, the article by Lan (2002), if also very reliable as it was published in Microbes Infect, a highly esteemed peer reviewed journal.

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