An unusually high number of E.coli cases have been reported in the Edmonton region in recent weeks, says the Mayerthorpe Freelancer. During the warmer summer months, the risk of food borne illness often increases as more people prepare food outdoors whether barbecuing, camping or picnicking.

Seven cases of E. coil have been reported in the Edmonton region in the last three weeks. The infections are most often the result of eating food which has been contaminated by the E. coil bacteria. Ground beef is of special concern since it is sometimes contaiminated with E. coli.

These safe food handling tips can help prevent E. coli infection:

  • Do not prepare food for others if you are ill with diarrhea.
  • Always wash your hands before handling food and after handling raw meat.
  • Before and after preparing ground meat, wash the work surface and everything you used in preparing the meat with hot soapy water. (This prevents E. coli bacteria from being transferred to other foods you may prepare on the same work surface.)
  • Keep hot foods hot (above 60C/140F ) and keep cold foods cold (below 4C/40F).
  • Most importantly, thoroughly cook all ground beef to kill disease causing bacteria. Cooking ground beef to a temperature of 71C/160F at the centre of the hamburger patty will destroy E. coli bacteria. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the meat has reached a high enough temperature. The colour of the meat and juices are not a reliable way of ensuring ground beef is thoroughly cooked.