Originally Posted by Blobbenstein
I thought that e-coli often came from the manure of grain fed cattle.....the cattle should be eating grass, and the grain changes the pH levels(lowers or highers, I can't remember) in their gut allowing e-coli to grow.
From what I understand, some e coli is naturally occuring in lots of animals' feces. The issue is that it grows to a high concentration at feed lots, making it more probable that it will infect the final "product" (beef) or another product (spinach, etc.). The actual cause may be cattle that are fed corn but it might also be close quarters of feed lots and/or the fattening process (more food into the cow = more food in intestine = more intestinal bacteria) and/or other causes. Though it does seem like the corn is at least mostly to blame:
Early results of tests by the USDA's Agriculture Research Service (ARS) indicate that E. coli O157:H7 in cattle manure, and on cattle hides, may be more prevalent for cattle whose corn-based feed contains what's known as "wet distiller's grains with solubles," or WDGS. [...]
Both pastured and feedlot cattle can harbor the microbe, which has no affect on them but can make humans sick. The pathogen is shed in manure and, if it gets on hides, can contaminate meat and equipment at slaughter and beyond. The more bacteria in the manure, the greater the risk of potential contamination.
It should be noted that in the US, cattle carcas can be labeled "grass fed" but that doesn't mean the animal got to roam freely on a pasture.
Cows may be confined and grass-fed. Label does not equate to grazing in a pasture. The label may include in small print "grain-finished," indicating that the cow spent some time confined in a feedlot.
New news reports this particular strain is novel.
"This is a unique strain that has never been isolated from patients before," Hilde Kruse, a food safety expert at the World Health Organization, told The Associated Press. The new strain has "various characteristics that make it more virulent and toxin-producing" than the many E. coli strains people naturally carry in their intestines. [...]
Some scientists suspect the deadly E. coli might have been in manure used to fertilize vegetables.
Kruse said it is not uncommon for bacteria to evolve and swap genes. It is difficult to explain where the new strain came from, she said, but bacteria from humans and animals easily trade genes.
Previous E. coli outbreaks have mainly hit children and the elderly, but this one is disproportionately affecting adults, especially women. Kruse said there might be something particular about the bacteria strain that makes it more dangerous for adults.
What's sad is that when people hear about any kind of food poisoning and then they find out what food it came from, their interest stops. They don't generally look any further to find the actual cause. Most Americans have no idea that most food poisoning comes from animal products or foods contaminated by them.