Will we be able to cook barbecue this summer without the risk of contamination with E.coli bacteria?

Meat kebabs with illustrations. ©publichebdos archives

“Escherichia coli has been around for a long time, we’ve only heard a lot about it for a few years,” he explains biologist of the laboratory of medical analysis L’Aigle (Orne).

Escherichia colibacilla is a bacterium that is very common in our body. Usually harmless, this one has developed strains that are more harmful.

A more dangerous strain

The one they are talking about is “a new strain – intestinal hemorrhagic Escherichia coli, it has greater pathogenicity,” the biologist emphasizes.

The most common symptoms remain urinary tract infections, kidney failure, and significant anemia. The most serious forms exist, but the case remains exceptional.

The most vulnerable people remain weak people (for example, the elderly, people with weakened immunity, children). “Tests exist through blood tests, but you have to be willing to bear the cost.”

According to the L’Aigle medical analysis laboratory, not a single case of infection has been detected on the territory. “We cannot detect this bacterium either by smell, color or texture. It is the sanitary inspections that check the meat before releasing it to the market,” the biologist explains.

Barbecue time

Ground beef from Aldi was recently recalled due to contamination.

Video: Now on Actu

It is one of the most easily contaminated foods if it is not prepared properly.

Biologist from L’Aigle

Frying meat, reassures the biologist, is not a problem, “if you don’t break the cold chain.” Most of all, he advises to limit yourself to products that have not been altered. “We should give preference to unprocessed meat,” advises the biologist.

Minced meat is one of the foods with the highest risk of contamination because it is meat “that has already been processed”. If you buy steak or beefsteak (any meat without ground), the risks will be lower. For kebabs, bacteria are destroyed at temperatures above 70°C, which means that “if the meat is sufficiently cooked and well prepared, there is no risk”.

It is also necessary to follow the rules of hygiene to minimize the spread of bacteria harmful to humans. Food must be washed, “if people want to eat fresh vegetables, if they are not washed, there is a risk of contamination.”

Rule, follow the cold chain

“This is a bacterium that is present everywhere, in water, on land,” the biologist explains. “It’s not dangerous, bacteria of the enterohemorrhagic bacillus (strain) will be more harmful. Meat, dairy, frozen products can be contaminated. Bacteria survive in the cold and are destroyed by high temperatures. “For dairy, it’s the same as for meat, you have to follow the cold chain.”

Among these food products, minced meat is the most susceptible to contamination.

He explains to us that the strain settles in one place and then spreads, for example, “some machines can be infected, and during the processing or grinding of meat, this is where the bacteria spreads most often.” Bacteria can then spread rapidly.

As the hot weather approaches, the spread of the strain is likely to accelerate because “the cold chain will be difficult to maintain, especially if there is a heat wave.”

However, he wants to assure that if the meat is cooked enough, the bacteria will be destroyed.

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