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Novel Campylobacter Isolation Method Using Hydrophobic Grid Membrane Filter and Semisolid Medium

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Culture procedures for isolation of thermophilic campylobacters from food matrices are complex, labor intensive, and time-consuming. Most available methods include the use of antibiotics as selective agents to prevent the growth of competing microflora. A simple procedure for isolation of thermophilic campylobacters after enrichment in Rosef's enrichment broth was developed using a hydrophobic grid membrane filter (HGMF) on semisolid medium (SSM). SSM contains no antibiotics, and the HGMF physically separates Campylobacter from the enrichment broth, allowing isolation based on differential motility. The HGMF-SSM method was compared to the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Food Safety Procedures Manual (FSPM10) method (Isolation of Thermophilic Campylobacters from Fresh Pork, Beef, Veal, Poultry and Ready-to-Eat Meat Products), which includes the use of selective antibiotics. During the initial study, after enrichment the HGMF-SSM method yielded pure cultures of campylobacters after 16 to 18 h (overnight) compared with 48 h for the FSPM-10 method. Ninety-four turkey samples collected at local retail stores and 38 frozen pig fecal samples were processed by both methods. Thirty-five samples (26.5%) were positive by the HGMF-SSM method; 24 (18.2%) of these positive samples contained Campylobacter jejuni and 11 (8.3%) contained Campylobacter coli. With the FSPM-10 method, 25 samples (18.9%) were positive: 21 (15.9%) with C. jejuni and 4 (3%) with C. coli. For a subsequent field study, only the HGMF-SSM method was used to isolate Campylobacter from 1,200 chicken samples and 454 turkey samples sold at retail. Analysis of five subisolates from various samples indicated that only one type of Campylobacter was recovered by the HGMF-SSM method, as ascertained by MICs for 10 antimicrobials, sequencing of the short variable region of the flaA gene, and fingerprinting based on amplified fragment length polymorphism. The absence of antibiotics in the SSM may explain the higher recovery of thermophilic campylobacters. The HGMF-SSM method resulted in improved isolation of campylobacters and is simpler, faster, cheaper, and less labor intensive than the FSPM-10 method. The recovery of one type of Campylobacter from the chicken samples may have important implications, particularly in epidemiological studies.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Laboratory for Foodborne Zoonoses, Public Health Agency of Canada, 110 Stone Road West, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 3W4

Publication date: February 1, 2007

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