When there are reports of contaminated food, why is it always with E. Coli? Why aren’t other organisms more common, and/or why is E.Coli so good at growing on our food?

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When there are reports of contaminated food, why is it always with E. Coli? Why aren’t other organisms more common, and/or why is E.Coli so good at growing on our food?

In: Biology

There are plenty of organisms that are more common. It’s just that they don’t make us sick, so it goes unnoticed and unreported. It’s a case of ignorance is bliss.. you really don’t want to know what kind of little creepy crawlies are in your uncooked or undercooked food at the microscopic level.

*E. Coli * can potentially be fatal. That’s why. There are salmonella outbreaks too but that’s s lot less fatal so there’s not as much of a freak out. *E. Coli* is a common bacteria in the intestines of mammals. It’s in pretty much all the cows from which your beef comes. The contamination occurs when fecal matter from
those cows gets onto the beef you’re going to eat. Slaughterhouses are messy so it happens. But they wash and treat the meat to kill all of the bacteria. Sometimes they miss some.

E Coli, quite uniquely, is one of the few bacteria found in animals intestinal tract that is capable of surviving outside of the body in a high oxygen environment (most bacteria either require a environment with a lot of oxygen, or a little oxygen, but few can survive in both). So, when fecal matter comes into contact with food that we want to eat (lettuce, meat, etc), most of the bacteria in that sample will die relatively quickly, where E coli will be able to survive. It makes it much more difficult to kill than other fecal associated bacteria

E. Coli is found in all cattle raised for food. Not all of them are toxic, but when you crowd a few thousand cattle together or run that many through a slaughterhouse you have a high probability of encountering the toxic version. Vegetable carried E.Coli breakouts are due to mismanagement of manure or manure tainted water, hamburger events are due to meat dropped into the manure swill on the floor of a slaughterhouse being thrown into giant grinders that quite effectively distribute the bacteria throughout thousands of pounds of product.