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Food safety tips

Making the connection: E. coli, kidneys, and cognitive impairment

What do E. coli, your kidneys and cognitive impairment have in common? E. coli is a common type of bacteria that can get into food like beef and vegetables. The bacteria is not usually harmful but certain types can make you sick, and can even result in infection leading to kidney failure.1

Kidney failure can be a risk factor for cognitive decline in the elderly.2

E. coli bacteriaE. coli and other types of foodborne bacteria can be spread by improperly cooked beef, raw fruits and uncooked vegetables, unpasteurized milk and milk products.1 The effects are often more pronounced in the elderly and the young.

Symptoms of infection include:

  • Severe stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

Roughly 11 million people are infected by foodborne illnesses in Canada every year. You can prevent illness by using proper food handling and preparation techniques.3

Protect yourself

At the grocery store4:

  • Buy cold refrigerated foods at the end of your shopping
  • Check the best before date
  • Keep meat separate from other food products

At home4:

  • Place meat and meat products in a separate container or plastic bag to keep the juices from leaking onto other items
  • Refregerate or freeze meat immediately
  • Use separate dishes and utensils for raw or uncooked food
  • Wash your hands well after handling meat and meat products
  • Clean and disinfect kitchen surfaces and utensils that have come into contact with raw meat

When cooking, use a meat thermometer to verify that your food has been heated to a high-enough temperature to kill bacteria. The Government of Canada recommends5:

  • Whole poultry: 85°C (185°F)
  • Stuffing, casseroles, leftovers, egg dishes, ground poultry: 74°C (165°F)
  • Pork chops, ribs, roasts, ground beef, pork, and veal: 71°C (160°F)
  • Whole muscle beef and veal cuts, such as steaks and roasts: 145°C (145°F)

Footnotes:

  1. E. coli. Public Health Agency of Canada. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/fs-sa/fs-fi/ecoli-eng.php
  2. Impaired kidney function linked to cognitive decline in elderly. ScienceDaily. (2009). http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090928172355.htm
  3. Reminding Canadians of Turkey Safety This Thanksgiving. Health Canada. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/advisories-avis/_2012/2012_146-eng…
  4. Turkey Food Safety Tips. Healthy Canadians (Health Canada). http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/init/cons/food-aliments/safety-salubr…
  5. Holiday Food Safety. Healthy Canadians (Health Canada). http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/init/cons/food-aliments/safety-salubr…

Last Updated: 11/08/2017