Maybe that fermentation ain’t working so well; 1,642 sickened; outbreak of E. coli O169 in schoolchildren associated with consumption of kimchi, Korea, 2012

Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is now recognized as a common cause of foodborne outbreaks. This study aimed to describe the first ETEC O169 outbreak identified in Korea. In this outbreak, we identified 1,642 cases from seven schools. Retrospective cohort studies were Kimchiperformed in two schools; and case-control studies were conducted in five schools.

In two schools, radish kimchi was associated with illness; and in five other schools, radish or cabbage kimchi was found to have a higher risk among food items. Adjusted relative risk of kimchi was 5·87–7·21 in schools that underwent cohort studies; and adjusted odds ratio was 4·52–12·37 in schools that underwent case-control studies.

ETEC O169 was isolated from 230 affected students, and was indistinguishable from the isolates detected from the kimchi product distributed by company X, a food company that produced and distributed kimchi to all seven schools. In this outbreak, we found that the risk of a kimchi-borne outbreak of ETEC O169 infection is present in Korea. We recommend continued monitoring regarding food safety in Korea, and strengthening surveillance regarding ETEC O169 infection through implementation of active laboratory surveillance to confirm its infection.

Epidemiology & Infection, 2013, p.1-8

J.K. Hu, J. Seo, and Y.J. Choe

  • Tom

    For the moment, it would appear this article doesn’t exist Doug. Your link returns as unfound, a search in google using the citation you have given returns nothing but references to your blog, and the same search in google scholar returns nothing at all. Would you have a permanent link to this article that works so someone with a science background can look at it and tell you whether it is good or bad science?



  • Tom

    Hi Doug, I have found this link to an republished version of the article. Looks perhaps like the article you quoted was pulled, about 8 more authors have been added, but the full paper isn’t available for me. As if pulling the paper and redrafting it to make it fit for publication wasn’t bad enough, this issue also has an appended Corrigendum (thing to be corrected). Watch the space, they may have to pull it again while they try to shoehorn it into the shape they want. You do know don’t you, and I assume you do, that it is impossible for E. coli to survive lacto-bacillic fermentation? Assuming this is a valid article, there would have to be an explanation something like: what was meant to be a 3 day or 4 day ferment, by which time the pH would have dropped sufficiently low to exclude E. coli, was mistakenly pulled after 1 day? There is also the possibility that sampling equipment or testing facilities were compromised, or that there was something not quite right and valid about the study and it’s conclusions. The pulling of the paper, the redrafting with added authors, the removal of the article from the front of issue to the back of a later one, and the need for a corrigendum all sounds a bit fishy to me. Maybe it’s that off fish sauce?