Escherichia bacteria are normal inhabitants of the intestine and serve an essential function to suppress the growth of harmful bacteria. They also help synthesize vitamins.
E. coli O157:H7 is a specific variety of Escherichia and it produces potent toxins that cause severe damage to the lining of the intestine.
The E.coli O157:H7 strain is the result of feeding cattle, corn. The fatten them up with corn instead of allowing them to move and graze on grass. Why? Because it is cheaper.
Corn fattens cattle quickly and produces more marbleized beef. Marbleized beef is higher in fat content, more tasty and costs more.
Due to the corn substitition and alteration in diet, the healthy flora of the cow’s rumen (its digestive organ) is overrun by the unhealthy strain.
Cattle that grazes on grass consume enormous amounts of cellulose. Once cellulose is removed from the diet, the environment in the rumen becomes decidedly more acidic. This is what allows the O157:H7 strain, an acid-resistant strain to predominate over the neutral E.coli species in the the rumen.
E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks are normally due to raw or undercooked hamburgers. The offending agent being the ground beef derived from the infected cow. But it must be pointed out that alfalfa sprouts, unpasteurized fruit juices, dry-cured salami, lettuce, game meat, and cheese curds have also been implicated in other outbreaks.
In fact, raw, unpasteurized milk was the vehicle that led to a school outbreak in Canada and in June 2009, Nestlé USA voluntarily recalled all its Toll House refrigerated cookie dough products after an outbreak of E.coli O157:H7.
Making Matters Worse
Corporate farmers and food manufacturers responded to the increased threat from pathogenic E.coli by providing animals with huge doses of antibiotics. The resulting animals are a weak semblance of their former selves and have compromised immune systems.
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or Mad Cow Disease is a brain-wasting disease affecting cattle. It is thought to be caused by an abnormal protein or prion that infects the nervous system. The prion causes behavioral changes, loss of coordination, trembling, and ultimately death. BSE is associated with the feeding of animal by-products, specifically nervous system tissue, to cattle.