Blame the consumer – French style; 18 kids with E. coli O157 in burgers, 2011; just cook it

In June, 2011, eight children in Northern France were initially diagnosed with E. coli O157 after eating beef burgers bought from German discount retailer, Lidl.

The current bulletin from Institut de veille sanitaire has a research paper summarizing the outbreak, and reveals 18 children were sickened, 16 from E. coli O157-O177 and 1 due to E. coli O157-O26.

The authors write that all strains isolated from patient stool samples were non-motile and fermented sorbitol, a rare characteristic for strains of E. coli O157 isolated in France.

The authors conclude, “this outbreak … reminds us of the importance of thoroughly cooking beef burgers destined for consumption by young children.”

Cooking is one aspect in reducing E. coli O157 and other STEC loads from farm-to-fork, but fails to acknowledge cross-contamination. Maybe it was in the paper and lost in translation.

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time