E. coli 0157:H7
Foodborne illnesses

Food Safety


E. coli 0157:H7 is one of the hundreds of strains of E. coli normally found in the large intestine of animals. First recognized in the United States in 1982, E. coli 0157:H7 has been associated with several serious outbreaks in the United States and is most commonly linked to undercooked ground beef.


Symptoms are usually characterized by severe abdominal pain, cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and occasionally fever. Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) is a serious consequence of this disease and is the leading cause of kidney failure in children. Central nervous system disease, seizures, coma and blood clots in the brain may also develop, and may result in death.


Humans and animals. Only humans exhibit symptoms of illness.

Mode of Transmission

The organism resides in the intestinal tract and is shed in the feces. Slaughter and milking procedures can contaminate food products. While roasts and steaks may become contaminated, the bacteria usually are only found on the exterior of such products, and can be easily killed during the cooking process. However, hamburger and other ground meat products may evenly distribute the bacteria throughout the product. If the product is not thoroughly cooked throughout, some organisms may survive. Illness can occur after ingesting only small amounts of this pathogen. E. coli 0157:H7 has been isolated in raw and undercooked meats, cheeses, lettuce, unpasteurized milk, raw finfish, cream pies, mashed potatoes and other prepared foods.


  • Food-protection education
  • Cook meats thoroughly, until the juices run clear. (155ºF for ground meats/hamburger)
  • Avoid cross-contamination (contact of raw food with cooked foods)
  • Good personal hygiene with an emphasis on handwashing


National Restaurant Association