E. Coli 0157 is a germ that can cause mild diarrhoea or severe bloody diarrhoea.

In some cases, complications can lead to a more serious illness.

You can catch E. Coli the following four ways:

  • By eating undercooked food which is contaminated with the germ, especially meat, including beef-burgers
  • By drinking unpasteurised (green top) milk also contaminated with the germ
  • From animals that may have the germ in their bodies
  • From someone who is suffering from the illness

Once the germs have been swallowed, they grow in the stomach. Symptoms usually start three to fourteen days later.

How to avoid E. Coli

  • Cook minced beef and minced beef products (including beef-burgers) until the juices run clear and there are no pink bits inside and the middle of the thickest part reaches 75ºC
  • Do not allow raw meat to come into contact with cooked foods
  • Do not drink unpasteurised (green top) milk or eat foods made from unpasteurised milk e.g. some cheeses or yoghurts


The body should be able to remove the germs naturally. Antibiotics are not usually needed. Until you are fit and well, you may pass the germ onto other people, so you must be extra careful with your personal hygiene.

Whilst you have diarrhoea, drink plenty of fluids. If urination becomes infrequent, contact your Doctor.

  • Wash hands with soap in warm running water and dry thoroughly
  • Avoid close contact with other people until the diarrhoea has stopped
  • Avoid preparing food for other people
  • Make sure everyone at home has their own towel and flannel
  • Clean toilet seats, flush handles, door handles and taps frequently with hot soapy water and disinfectant solution
  • Soiled clothes and bedding should be washed on their own in the washing machine on the hottest cycle

You must stay away from work or school until at least 48 hours after your first normal stool. If your work involves handling food, nursing or working with the young, sick or elderly or you are a child under five, you must have two negative stool samples before returning.

For further advice or information please visit the Public Health England website or contact the Food Hygiene and Safety Team.

Last updated: Mon 30th July, 2018 @ 16:51