In 1914, the Public Health Service first used coliform as a general name to indicate members of the Enterobacteriaceae family, a broad class of indicator microorganisms. Coliforms can be used to show the presence of more dangerous disease-causing bacteria or viruses. They can also be found in the intestinal tracts of humans and animals, feces, water, soil, and vegetation.
Coliforms are normally present on raw plants; positive testing for them does not necessarily indicate the produce has come in contact with feces.
Are All Coliforms Dangerous?
- There are many types of coliforms, not all make people sick, but some do
- Since there are so many types, exposure has effects varying from nothing to serious illnesses
How are they spread?
- Frequently spread in hospital environments
- Fruits or vegetables may become contaminated from soil or manure fertilizers during growing or harvesting periods
- Contaminated water can pass bacteria if it touches food at any stage (irrigation, washing, rinsing, processing, etc.)