Staying Healthy in the Summer: Healthy Salads and E Coli

There has been an E. coli outbreak in the UK which has killed two people and infected more than 150 people with 62 people being hospitalised. It is thought that the infection has been imported from the Mediterranean area.

Public health England are currently researching what exactly caused the outbreak however they have issued reminders to all shoppers on the importance on washing mixed salad leaves during this mini heat wave.

E coli is found in the faeces of cattle and other animals and can contaminate both food and water. Although outbreaks are rare, they can cause a range of symptoms to people infected. These include bloody diarrhoea, sickness, cramp, abdominal pain and fever. Symptoms tend to occur about four days after being infected and can last up to two weeks.

Treatment for people infected with E. coli can be prescribed with antibiotics depending on symptoms; however it is very important to ensure that you stay rested and are hydrated so that the body is replaced with both fluid and electrolytes.

A number of the E. coli cases that the infected persons has recently eaten pre-packed rocket leaved salad. Dr Isabel Oliver, director of PHE’s field epidemiology service, stated that “At this stage, we are not ruling out other food items as a potential source.” However advice is on hand for people to minimise further spreading of the infection by washing hands before handling food and thoroughly washing vegetables and salads before eating.

To minimise the risk of contracting E. coli the following advice has been sought:-

  • Wash hands before and after handling food
  • Wash hands after using the toilet
  • Wash hands thoroughly after touching animals
  • Wash all vegetables and fruits that are going to be eaten raw
  • Remove any soil before storing vegetables and salads
  • Store meat and vegetables separately – away from any ‘ready to eat foods’
  • Prepare vegetables and meat separately – using different utensils
  • Thoroughly cook all minced meat products
  • Take extra precautions if having a BBQ outside so as to not infect different meats and salads or spread through water in swimming pools
  • It is advised that people who have been ill should not prepare meals for at least 48 hours after being symptom free

If you feel that you may have E. Coli then it is vitally important that you see a doctor as soon as possible as explain all the symptoms that you are suffering.