Escherichia coli O157:H7 – Food
For sampling, follow the instructions found in Public Health Inspector’s Guide to Environmental Microbiology Laboratory Testing.
- Ship all foods in containers with hard walls and lids secured in the closed position.
- Shipping containers must be labelled with the submitting organization, unique identifier and contents e.g. FOOD SAMPLES on the outside of the container.
- DO NOT SHIP WITH CLINICAL SPECIMENS. Shipping containers used for food samples should be dedicated to food samples and not be used for other types of environmental samples.
- Ship dry foods and other shelf stable foods at ambient temperature in a closed container.
- Ship frozen foods in an insulated container with sufficient ice packs to maintain the frozen state.
- Ship perishable foods in an insulated container with sufficient cold packs to maintain a temperature as close to 4°C as possible. If ice is used, contain the ice in a manner that does not allow water contact with the samples.
- Submit all food samples to the laboratory as soon as possible.
Test Frequency and Turnaround Time (TAT)
The Escherichia coli O157:H7 test is performed Monday to Saturday.
Turnaround time is up to 9 days.
The presence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 is detected by culturing food in non-selective enrichment broth followed by Immunomagnetic Separation (IMS) and isolation on selective agar plates with subsequent biochemical and serological identification. (Public Health Ontario Laboratory Method)
Escherichia coli O157:H7 should be absent from ready to eat foods.
Results are reported to the submitting health unit as indicated on the requisition, when all analyses are completed.
Food samples that show the presence of bacteria capable of causing food-borne illness are reported to the Medical Officer of Health as per the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act.
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