Food borne transmission of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) was first reported in Australia in 1995 when an outbreak of HUS due to Escherichia coli O111 occurred following the consumption of locally produced mettwurst. Federal and state health and food authorities responded rapidly
to bring the outbreak under control. Longer-term responses include the introduction by regulatory authorities of a code of practice for uncooked fermented comminuted meat products, the provision of government and industry funds to support the implementation of this code, and research into
the ecology and epidemiology of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli and the safe production of meat. In addition, general awareness has increased, and activities in food safety control among all sectors has been stimulated. The pattern of EHEC serotypes in the Australian human and animal
populations appears different from that in countries in the Northern Hemisphere. Serotype O157:H7 is not the predominant serotype isolated. Other serotypes, including 0111, are more common and possess a variety of virulence-associated determinants. Research into food safety and EHEC is therefore
aimed at the development of detection methods more appropriate for the Australian situation. Additional research objectives include determining both the prevalence of EHEC in meat and the meat animal population and farming and handling practices that influence EHEC carriage and transmission.
These activities will contribute to an assessment of the hazards presented by EHEC in Australia and recommendations for their control.
CSIRO Division of Food Science and Technology, PO Box 3312, Tingalpa D.C., Queensland 4173, Australia
Publication date: November 1, 1997
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