Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has issued a Public Information Statement to alert the public to the presence of a group of harmful Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in food. STEC are a group of different types of E. coli bacteria found in the guts of animals such as cattle and sheep, which can make their way into the food chain via the animals’ faeces. Illness caused by STEC can be a very serious for young children and older people in particular, and can cause severe disease, and even death. As few as 10 - 100 cells of STEC can cause infection.
Based on the existing expert scientific evidence, reinforced by a recent report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, FSS advises that the presence of any STEC in ready-to-eat food is a potential risk to health, and could cause food poisoning.
This advice has been given to local authorities, the food industry and consumers to ensure there is no room for misunderstanding, and is supported by Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, Scottish and UK health bodies.
Source: FSS, 19 February 2019