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Shiga toxin-producing E. coli: what you need to know.


Food safety testing can help ensure that your facility’s products are safe for consumption.

Learning about various foodborne illnesses and staying up to date on the latest testing devices can help safeguard your business and protect your consumers.

What is STEC and what are its symptoms?

Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) is a type of pathogenic E. coli that belongs to a broader group that produces Shiga toxin. It can be further classified based on other virulence factors it can produce. For example, STEC containing virulence genes for stx1 and/or stx2 and eae (intimin gene involved in attaching and effacing phenotype) are designated enterohemorrhagic Ecoli (EHEC), making EHEC a subset of STEC. STEC and EHEC are often used interchangeably. However, there are certain pathotypes of E. coli, namely those that only have stx1 and/or stx2 and not eae, that have been implicated in outbreaks.

STEC has been linked to the consumption of contaminated water or food, direct contact with contaminated animals, or by direct contact with infected persons. Human outbreaks are linked to mainly beef, dairy, produce, nuts, seeds, and seed sprouts. STEC commonly get into these sources from water contamination, run-off from animal production units, or dust and insects from animal production facilities. All these areas are a liability during the harvest and processing step for a manufacturer.

Doses as low as 10 CFU (colony forming unit) can lead to infection and cause severe illness to people infected. Symptoms of STEC in the human body vary from person to person but often include severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and/or mild fever and can ultimately lead to kidney failure.

Safeguarding your facility against STEC.

There are certain measures you can take to help safeguard your customers against this pathogen.

The 3M™ Molecular Detection Assay 2 – STEC Gene Screen (stx and eae) is used with the 3M™ Molecular Detection System for the rapid and specific detection of Shiga toxin gene (stx1 and/or stx2) and intimin gene (eae) from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli. The screening kit contains two separate reagent tubes, one to detect virulence genes stx1 and/or stx2 and the other to detect the eae gene. The 3M™ Molecular Detection System Software reports results separately for stx and eae genes and uses results from both reagent tubes to call the sample positive or negative for STEC (EHEC). For a presumptive positive for STEC (EHEC), both gene targets (stx1 and/or stx2 and eae) must be positive. The stx assay does not differentiate between stx1 and stx2, but instead detects the presence of either or both of these genes in the sample.

Another option is the 3M™ Molecular Detection Assay 2 – STEC Gene Screen (stx). It is to be used with the 3M™ Molecular Detection System for the rapid and specific detection of Shiga toxin genes (stx1 and/or stx2) from shiga toxin-producing E. coli in enriched foods and food process environmental samples. The term STEC refers to E. coli pathotypes capable of producing shiga toxin type 1 (Stx1), type 2 (Stx2), or both, encoded by stx1 and stx2 genes, respectively. This kit contains reagents only for detection of Shiga toxin genes and no other virulence factors from STEC. In addition, the assay does not differentiate between stx1 and stx2, but detects the presence of either or both of these genes in the sample.

Learn more.

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3M™ Molecular Detection Assay 2— STEC Gene Screen (stx and eae).