E. coli O157:H7, the cause for the recent, extensive beef recall, is one of the few types of E. coli that is dangerous to humans. It is shed in the feces of many warm-blooded animals, including deer, geese, dogs and cattle. E. coli O157:H7 is harmless to most animals but can be dangerous to humans if contaminated water or undercooked meat is consumed, especially to those with an immature or weakened immune system. Beef can become contaminated by cattle hides and equipment during slaughter and processing or by food handlers in the retail sector.
Potentially dangerous pathogens are uncommon in beef, which is due in large part to the industry focus on combatting E. coli O157:H7. Continue reading