E. Coli & Pasteurization

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DOCTOR'S VIEW ARCHIVE

Remember the Apple juice contamination back in late October? Several cases of E. Coli infection of the bowels and at least one case of kidney failure due to this nasty bug were reported in the medical and lay news media at the time. While undercooked meat (such as hamburgers) have been the primary concern, it is clear that other foods (in this case even fresh juices) can also be a source of infection.

According to a report by CNN (please see the link at the bottom of this page), the FDA is holding hearings in regard to proposals that could lead to recommendations of pasteurization of fresh fruit juices. E. Coli causes an infection of the bowels, leading to bloody diarrhea. In some patients, the blood & kidneys are also affected-producing what is known as the hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS can cause red blood cells to break up, dangerously low blood pressure, and kidney failure. At present there is no specific treatment for this syndrome except for "supportive" care (IV fluids, etc.)

It is not clear as yet that pasteurization is the only answer to avoiding the juice problem, and in fact many are advocating improved sanitary standards as an alternative to fixing the problem-at least for the juices. So, during this holiday season and in fact any season-watch what you eat & drink!

For further information on E. Coli , please visit our MedicineNet.com E. Coli Forum.

CNN link: ( http://asia.cnn.com/HEALTH/9612/16/nfm/ecoli/index.html)

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Reviewed on 12/31/1997

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