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How 1 Hospital Combats E. Coli Germ in Food

Swiss facility had high rates of contamination with drug-resistant strain, but proper preparation cut risk

FRIDAY, March 14, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- In one large Swiss hospital, nearly 90 percent of raw chicken used in food for patients and staff was contaminated with antibiotic-resistant E. coli bacteria, but proper preparation of the chicken eliminated the bacteria, a new study found.

Researchers tested samples of raw chicken delivered to the central kitchen of the University Hospital of Geneva, which prepares more than 8,000 meals a day.

Eighty-six percent of the samples tested positive for a specific resistant strain of E. coli.

The researchers also found that six of the 93 food handlers at the hospital were carriers of the strain, but they were no more likely to be "colonized" by the bacteria than people in the general population.

When bacteria is colonized, it has begun reproducing although the infected person might not show any symptoms.

The study appears in the April issue of the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

"While a high proportion of chicken contaminated by antibiotic-resistant E. coli is a significant concern, robust food-safety measures taken by hospital kitchen staff are able to prevent the spread of these pathogens and minimize risk to food handlers, staff and patients," study author Dr. Andrew Stewardson said in a journal news release.

Although food-preparation regulations in hospital kitchens are effective in eliminating the bacteria, that might not be the case in household kitchens where people are less likely to be as strict about food safety precautions, the researchers noted.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about food safety.

SOURCE: Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, news release, March 7, 2014

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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