Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacterium found in the digestive tract of animals and humans.
Generally harmless, some E. coli are pathogenic and can contaminate food, water and the environment.
Hundreds of thousands of people are made ill by E. coli each year, with hundreds of them dying. In recent years, there has been an increase of outbreaks with significant impact on health care systems and agricultural production.
Frequent sources of foodborne infections include unpasteurised dairy products and juice, insufficiently cooked and processed meat, raw fruits and vegetables, and unsanitary handling and storage of prepared foods.