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News  


 

No traces of European E-coli

By Carol Aloysius
“Yes, we have found E-coli in foods served in restaurants and wayside eating houses. But that is usual as E-coli has existed in our locally cooked foods for years, and is usually found in food that does not match up to what we call ‘hygienic’ standards of food preparation. We have found it in roti, fish buns, pittu, rice and curry, and even in water. But it is very different from the newly reported European E-coli found in Germany,” Dr Pradeep Kariyawasam, Chief Medical Officer of the Colombo Municipal Council told The Nation.
Explaining further he said, “The E-coli that has been commonly found in unhygienic food is usually in the human gut and in animal faeces. It is not harmful but only indicates that the food is contaminated. We call this bacteria a ‘marker organism’ as our Food Inspectors search for this bacteria when they want to make sure whether a local dish prepared by an eating outlet has conformed to our standards of hygiene.”
However, in its more severe form, E-coli can lead to blood diarrhoea, such as dysentery.
On the other hand, he said the European E-coli was more virulent and could cause death. “It is a mutant, a new strain of the type of E-coli we are familiar with. As far as the CMC is concerned we have had no reports of it being found here, although we will be very vigilant about all food products especially vegetables imported from European countries at risk.”
Scares of a new E-coli strain began after German authorities in North Rhine Westpahalia said early this month, they had identified the bacterium on bean sprouts found in a dustbin of a family where two members had fallen ill with e-coli symptoms. They blamed the bean sprouts as causing the death of 31 people in May.
Following charges that a German based firm in the same area, had exported bean sprouts and other vegetables to Sri Lanka, with the likelihood of contaminated tins being put on local shop shelves, health authorities are now checking the shelves of all supermarkets along with extra vigilance being initiated by the customs officials at airports and other points of entry of food items to the country.
They also warned local travellers to Germany and other high risk European countries to refrain from eating raw vegetables in those countries.