FSS issues advice on protecting the public from the risk of STEC in food

Food Standards Scotland has issued a Public Information Statement to make clear its position regarding the presence of a group of harmful E. coli bacteria called STEC in food.

Based in the existing expert scientific evidence, reinforced by a recent report from the World Health Organisation and United Nations, FSS advises that presence if any STEC in a ready-to-eat food is a potential risk to health, and could cause food poisoning.

Professor Norval Strachan, Independent Chief Scientific Adviser for Food Standards Scotland, said:

“STEC, or Shiga Toxin-producing E. coli, are a group of different types of E. coli bacteria found in the guts of animals such as cattle and sheep, which can make their way into the food chain via the animals’ faeces. Illness caused by STEC can be very serious for young children and older people in particular, and can cause severe disease, and even death. As few as 10 - 100 cells of STEC can cause infection.

“This statement has been given to clarify the position with regard to STEC in ready-to-eat food in Scotland, to ensure public health is protected. This remains Food Standards Scotland’s paramount concern. Our decisions are always evidence-based and taken in the best interests of consumers.”