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Incidence, Survival, and Growth of Enterobacter sakazakii in Infant Formula

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Enterobacter sakazakii has been implicated in a severe form of neonatal meningitis. Although studies have failed to identify an environmental source for the organism, dried infant formula has been implicated in outbreaks and sporadic cases of E. sakazakii meningitis. The high mortality rate (50 to 75%), the severity of the infection in infants, and the lack of information on the incidence, survival, and growth of E. sakazakii in foods led to this study. Experiments were undertaken to determine the incidence of E. sakazakii in dried infant formula, the temperature range for growth, and the growth characteristics of E. sakazakii in reconstituted dried infant formula. Strains of E. sakazakii were isolated from dried infant formula available on the Canadian retail market. The prevalence varied from 0 to 12% in samples from five different companies. For both clinical and food isolates, minimum growth temperatures of 5.5 to 8.0°C were observed by using a temperature-gradient incubator. The potential growth of E. sakazakii was followed by using a mixture of food and clinical isolates in three different formulas incubated at 4, 10, and 23°C. Average generation times were 40 min at 23°C and 4.98 hat 10°C. E. sakazakii strains did not grow at 4°C and began to die off during storage at this temperature. The results of this study stress the importance of using aseptic methods and proper temperature control in the preparation, use, and storage of dried infant formula.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Ottawa-Carleton Institute of Biology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0L2, Canada 2: Bureau of Microbial Hazards, Food Directorate, Health Canada, Postal Locator 2204A2, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0L2, Canada

Publication date: March 1, 1997

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