Investigation into a national outbreak of STEC O157:H7 associated with frozen beef burgers, UK, 2017

Lisa Byrne*, Lukeki Kaindama, Maria Bentley, Claire Jenkins, Heather Aird, Isabel Oliver, Karthikeyan Paranthaman

*Corresponding author for this work

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9 Citations (Scopus)
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In November 2017, Public Health England (PHE) identified an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157 in England where whole genome sequencing results indicated cases were likely to be linked to a common source and began investigations. Hypothesis generation included a review of enhanced surveillance data, a case-case study and trawling interviews. The hypothesis of interest was tested through the administration of focussed questionnaires and review of shopping history using loyalty card data. Twelve outbreak cases were detected, eight were hospitalised, and four developed Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome. Frozen beef burgers supplied by a national retailer were identified as the vehicle of the outbreak. Testing of two left-over burger samples obtained from freezers of two separate (unlinked) cases and a retained sample from the production premises were tested and found positive for the STEC outbreak strain. A voluntary recall of the burgers was implemented by the retailer. Investigations at the production premises identified no contraventions of food safety legislation. Cooking guidance on the product packaging was deemed to be adequate and interviews with the cases/carers who prepared the burgers revealed no deficiencies in cooking practices at home. Given the long-shelf life of frozen burgers, the product recall likely prevented more cases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEpidemiology and Infection
Early online date16 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: No Funding Information.

Open Access: This is an OpenAccess article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence(,which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Publisher copyright: The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press.

Citation: Byrne L, Kaindama L, Bentley M, Jenkins C, Aird H, Oliver I, Paranthaman K,on behalf of the Incident Management Team (2020). Investigation into a national outbreakof STEC O157:H7 associated with frozen beef burgers, UK, 2017.Epidemiology and Infection 148, e215, 1–7.



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