Researchers from Sweden and Finland have developed a rapid and specific method that may detect the bacterium Yersinia enterocolitica, a common cause of gastric illness, in food.
They report their findings in the October 2008 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
Y. enterocolitica is the causative agent of yersiniosis, an internal infection resulting in diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, and vomiting. Predominantly considered a food-borne pathogen, most cases sporadically occur worldwide and the source of infection is often unknown. Pigs are believed to be a main reservoir for Y. enterocolitica with pork being the most likely vehicle of transmission to humans. The ability of Y. enterocolitica to multiply in foods at low temperatures as well as in vacuum-packed containment is cause for major food safety concern and current detection methods available are time consuming and inefficient.
In the study researchers developed and evaluated a TaqMan probe-based real-time PCR method for detecting Y. enterocolitica in food in one to two days. Following overnight synthetic enrichment of samples of milk, minced beef, cold-smoked sausage, fish and carrots with Y. enterocolitica, results of the TaqMan PCR test showed high levels of sensitivity, robustness, precision and efficiency in detecting the bacterium.
"A rapid and specific real-time PCR method for the detection of pathogenic Y. enterocolitica bacteria in food, as presented here, provides a superior alternative to the currently available detection methods and makes it possible to identify the foods at risk for Y. enterocolitica contamination," say the researchers.
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