Researchers from a host of countries have so far isolated 10 variants of the E.coli 0104:H4 that killed 50 and sickened 4,000. The outbreak was centred in northern Germany but affected 15 other countries in Europe and North America.

The sequencing will provide key information for food safety experts on how the bug was able to infiltrate the global food chain, said the Society for General Microbiology.

It will also give clues as to how the outbreak arose.

The process to sequence the bacteria kicked off in China in June. The initial sequence was made available to the international community as a ‘crowd sourcing’ project – which led to scientists identifying the organism’s main disease-causing genes.

This could help food safety authorities avoid future similar outbreaks, says Lisa Crossman from the UK’s Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC), which has taken part in the research.

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To read another response from the American Meat Institute, link here.