E.coli O157 & Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome

Electric Currents to Eradicate E.coli

16th January 2012

According to a study published in the 'International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health' a short burst of low voltage alternating current can effectively eradicate E.coli bacteria growing on the surface of heavily contaminated beef.

Researchers at Fort Valley State University, in Georgia and Virginia Tech looked at the potential for the use of electricity as a kind of food irradiation to combat foodborne illness. They grew cultures of E.coli on beef samples, then sent low-voltage alternating currents of electricity through the beef to see if the bacteria would survive. According to the paper, the low voltage current reduced E.coli by 98.9% in 16 minutes.

The researchers were not explicitly testing the method for its effect on meat quality, so it's unclear whether electricity could provide a viable alternative to standard irradiation in the future. But with the public still largely mistrustful of irradiation as a food safety measure - and with E.coli still a serious health hazard - it seems it's at least worth considering.

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