An abstract in the January Journal of Food Protection compared the survival rate of E. coli bacteria in food and water, after it has passed through a digestive tract.
Fecal samples were taken from cattle before and after oral inoculation of a specific E. coli strain. The fecal samples taken before the oral inoculation were then inoculated in the lab.
The study found that the E.coli survived the same amount of time in both samples.
The two sets of samples were then used to inoculate 5L volumes of water. In water, the E.coli from cattle who were inoculated lasted 10 weeks longer than the E.coli in feces inoculated in the lab.
The study suggests that pathogen survival in low-nutrient conditions may be enhanced by passage through the gastrointestinal tract.