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Levels and Enterotoxigenicity of Clostridium perfringens in Pozole, Tamales, and Birria

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A quantitative survey of Clostridium perfringens in typical foods served at local restaurants was conducted for 18 months in Guadalajara, Mexico. A total of 151 samples, including goat's birria (50), pozole (50), and beef tamales (51), were collected from small restaurants in Guadalajara. Samples were tested for C. perfringens by the most probable number (MPN) method and for mesophilic aerobic plate counts (MAPCs) and coliform, yeast, and mold counts by plate count methods. Isolates confirmed as C. perfringens were further sporulated and tested for cytotoxic or cytotonic effect against Vero cells as an indication of enterotoxin production. C. perfringens was detected in 78 (52%) of all samples at concentrations that ranged from 2.3 to 5.4 log MPN/g. Average MAPCs were 1.3 to 2.7 log CFU/g, depending on the type of dish. Coliform counts ranged from less than 1.0 to 1.5 CFU/g, and yeast and mold counts were less than 1.0 log CFU/g in all cases. A total of 118 isolates of C. perfringens were tested for enterotoxic effect on Vero cells; 82 (70%) showed activity against Vero cells. Of them, 31 isolates induced cell lysis, indicating cytotoxic effect; 41 induced cell elongation, indicating cytotonic effect; and 10 produced both cytotoxic and cytotonic effect. Dilution of the bacterial filtrates that were still producing an effect on Vero cells ranged from 1:80 to 1:5,120. These results underscore the importance of determining enterotoxigenicity when testing for C. perfringens in foods.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Laboratorio de Microbiología Sanitaria, Centro Universitario de Ciencias Exactas e Ingenierías, Universidad de Guadalajara, Marcelino García Barragán 1451, Guadalajara 44430, México 2: Deptartamento de Microbiología, Escuela Nacional de Ciencias Biológicas, Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Carpio y Plan de Ayala, México, D. F. 3: Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-2471, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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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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