Prevalence and Characterization of Salmonella Serovars Isolated from Oysters Served Raw in Restaurants

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To determine if Salmonella -contaminated oysters are reaching consumer tables, a survey of raw oysters served in eight Tucson restaurants was performed from October 2007 to September 2008. Salmonella spp. were isolated during 7 of the 8 months surveyed and were present in 1.2% of 2,281 oysters tested. This observed prevalence is lower than that seen in a previous study in which U.S. market oysters were purchased from producers at bays where oysters are harvested. To test whether the process of refrigerating oysters in restaurants for several days reduces Salmonella levels, oysters were artificially infected with Salmonella and kept at 4°C for up to 13 days. Direct plate counts of oyster homogenate showed that Salmonella levels within oysters did not decrease during refrigeration. Six different serovars of Salmonella enterica were found in the restaurant oysters, indicating multiple incidences of Salmonella contamination of U.S. oyster stocks. Of the 28 contaminated oysters, 12 (43%) contained a strain of S. enterica serovar Newport that matched by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis a serovar Newport strain seen predominantly in the study of bay oysters performed in 2002. The repeated occurrence of this strain in oyster surveys is concerning, since the strain was resistant to seven antimicrobials tested and thus presents a possible health risk to consumers of raw oysters.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Veterinary Science and Microbiology, University of Arizona, 1117 East Lowell Street, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA 2: Department of Veterinary Science and Microbiology, University of Arizona, 1117 East Lowell Street, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA.

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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