Short, sharp shock treatment for E. coli

January 11, 2012

A short burst of low voltage alternating current can effectively eradicate E. coli bacteria growing on the surface of even heavily contaminated beef, according to a study published in the International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health. The technique offers an inexpensive and easy to implement approach to reducing the risk of food poisoning, which can occur despite handlers complying with hygiene standards.

Food poisoning is a serious public-health issue, especially with the emergence of lethal and highly virulent strains of Escherichia coli (E. coli O157:H7, for example). Infection with this bacterium causes serious diarrhea, , kidney problems and can lead to serious long-term problems or even be fatal in children, the elderly and people with pre-existing health problems. Tens of thousands of people are affected by E. coli infection each year through eating contaminated beef and other food products. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 2500 people are hospitalized and there are several dozen deaths each year.

Now, Ajit Mahapatra and colleagues at Fort Valley State University, in Georgia and Virginia Tech have demonstrated that applying a low-voltage alternating current to beef samples inoculated with large numbers of the potentially lethal E. coli O157:H7 can almost completely deactivate the , which is usually present on the surface of contaminated meat. The team points out that the level of contamination used in their tests far exceeded the contamination that would be seen in commercial carcasses after slaughter.

Previous researchers had demonstrated that electricity can kill bacteria effectively. The study by Mahapatra and colleagues proves efficacy against E. coli O157:H7 at low voltage and low alternating current. It offers a quick and easy way to decontaminate at-risk, but otherwise safe beef without recourse to microbicidal chemicals or other more complicated .

Explore further: US to test beef for six kinds of E.coli bacteria

More information: "Efficacy of low-voltage AC for inactivating surface adherent Escherichia coli O157:H7 on beef" in Int. J. Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health, 2011, 4, 214-224

Related Stories

US to test beef for six kinds of E.coli bacteria

September 13, 2011
The US government said Tuesday it will begin testing next year for six more kinds of E.coli bacteria in raw ground beef and tenderized steaks in order to boost protection of US consumers.

Government to expand E. coli tests in meat

September 12, 2011
(AP) -- For years government officials have tested meat for only one strain of E. coli. Now they will test for seven, a move that will hasten recalls of infected meat.

Recommended for you

New cellular approach found to control progression of chronic kidney disease

December 15, 2017
Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that extracellular vesicles - tiny protein-filled structures - isolated from amniotic fluid stem cells (AFSCs) can be used to effectively slow the progression of kidney damage ...

Testing shows differences in efficacy of Zika vaccines after one year

December 15, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A large team of researchers with members from Harvard Medical School, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Bioqual Inc. and MIT has found that the efficacy of the three types of Zika vaccines currently ...

How to regulate fecal microbiota transplants

December 15, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A small team of researchers at the University of Maryland, some with affiliations to the Veterans Affairs Maryland Health Care System, has written and published a Policy Forum piece in the journal Science ...

Urine test developed to test for tuberculosis

December 14, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—An international team of researchers has developed a urine test that can be used to detect tuberculosis (TB) in human patients. In their paper published in Science Translational Medicine, the group describes ...

40 years after first Ebola outbreak, survivors show signs they can stave off new infection

December 14, 2017
Survivors of the first known Ebola outbreak, which occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1976, may be key to development of vaccines and therapeutic drugs to treat future outbreaks, according to a new study ...

Aging impairs innate immune response to flu

December 13, 2017
Aging impairs the immune system's response to the flu virus in multiple ways, weakening resistance in older adults, according to a Yale study. The research reveals why older people are at increased risk of illness and death ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.