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Detection of Shiga-Like Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli in Ground Beef and Milk by Commercial Enzyme Immunoassay

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Shiga-like toxin (SLT)-producing Escherichia coli (SLTEC) is the leading cause of acute renal failure among children. SLTEC are most commonly ingested from contaminated food, and because cattle are a major reservoir, ground beef and milk have been a significant source of contamination associated with multiperson outbreaks. While serotype O157:H7 has been principally identified in the United States there are many other SLTEC serotypes associated with human disease. We have therefore examined the utility of an enzyme immunoassay (EIA) for Shiga-like toxins as a means of detecting the presence of low levels of multiple SLTEC serotypes in ground beef and milk. In the present study we demonstrated that it is possible to detect low levels (approximately 1 SLTEC per g of ground beef) in both small-scale (2 g of beef per 5 ml) and standard large-scale (25 g of beef per 225 ml) food microbial cultures. The EIA was also capable of allowing detection of SLTEC in nonspiked retail ground beef samples: we were able to recover SLTEC isolates (O113:Hu; O22:H-; O82:H8) from 3 of 12 ground beef samples. The EIA detected SLTs produced in spiked milk samples when as few as 1 SLTEC per ml was added. Overall the EIA proved to be a highly sensitive way to detect the presence of SLTEC in either ground beef or milk samples after overnight enrichment culturing in an appropriate broth and should provide a rapid and convenient method for the detection of multiple pathogenic SLTEC serotypes.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Tupper Research Institute, Division of Geographic Medicine and Infectious Diseases, New England Medical Center, 750 Washington Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA

Publication date: April 1, 1996

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    First published in 1937, the Journal of Food Protection®, is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection® is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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