Isolation of Shiga Toxin–Producing Escherichia coli from Fresh Produce Using STEC Heart Infusion Washed Blood Agar with Mitomycin-C

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The ability to detect and isolate Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) remains a major challenge for food microbiologists. Although methods based on nucleic acids and antibodies have improved detection of STECs in foods, isolation of these bacteria remains arduous. STEC isolation is necessary for matching food, environmental, and clinical isolates during outbreak investigations and for distinguishing between pathogenic and nonpathogenic organisms. STEC heart infusion washed blood agar with mitomycin-C (SHIBAM) is a modification of washed sheep blood agar prepared by adding mitomycin-C and optimizing both the washed blood and base agar to better isolate STECs. Most STEC isolates produce a zone of hemolysis on SHIBAM plates and are easily distinguishable from background microbiota. Here, we present data supporting the use of SHIBAM to isolate STECs from fresh produce. SHIBAM was tested for accuracy in identifying STECs (365 of 410 STEC strains were hemolytic, and 63 of 73 E. coli strains that did not produce Shiga toxin were not hemolytic) and for recovery from artificially inoculated fresh produce (11 of 24 romaine lettuce samples and 6 of 24 tomato samples). STEC recovery with SHIBAM agar was greatly improved when compared with recovery on Levine's eosin–methylene blue agar as a reference method.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, San Francisco District, Alameda, California 94502, USA. 2: Department of Biological Sciences, California State University East Bay, Hayward, California 94542, USA 3: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, San Francisco District, Alameda, California 94502, USA 4: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Nutrition, College Park, Maryland 20740, USA

Publication date: November 1, 2012

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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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