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Shiga Toxin E.coli (STEC)

  • Most Escherichia coli (E.coli) strains are harmless and can live in the gut of humans without causing any issues. However Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC) strains can cause serious illness and there is therefore a requirement to test for these organisms in foods which may be of risk of contamination by STEC. A comprehensive quality assurance programme featuring the LGC STEC Proficiency Testing scheme is an excellent way of helping to keep consumers safe and ensuring reputations for quality are maintained.
  • There are many different strains of STEC, and these can be distinguished by their serology. The main ones found to cause illness in humans are serovars O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, O145 AND O157:H7, known as ‘the big six’ in the USA.
  • As the organisms are pathogens, the test is qualitative rather than quantitative, seeking to identify the presence of these organisms rather than enumerating the levels.
  • The primary aim of the LGC Shiga toxin E.coli (STEC) Scheme is to enable laboratories performing the microbiological analysis of food and dairy products to monitor their performance and compare with that of their peers. STEC also aims to provide information to participants on technical issues and methodologies relating to testing of food and dairy products.



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