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Food safety implications of potentially pathogenic clostridia
Project Code: B14007
University of Reading, School of Food Biosciences, Food Microbial Sciences Unit.
The microbiological safety of food depends on ensuring that pathogenic microbes are eliminated from food or prevented from growing. For most of the well-known microbial pathogens the conditions necessary to achieve this have been worked out in considerable detail over many years. However from time to time new hazards emerge and information about the properties of the new organisms becomes necessary.
In recent years certain strains of Clostridium butyricum and Clostridium barati have been isolated that produce neurotoxins very similar to those produced by Clostridium botulinum types E and F respectively. Initially these organisms were associated with infant botulism but C. butyricum has also been implicated in foodborne illness. A different example of a possible new hazard is illustrated by a product recall based on high numbers of Clostridium tertium and Clostridium bifermentans in pate. Though neither of these organisms is associated with foodborne illness the counts were sufficiently high to cause concern. With all three organisms there is a need for more information about their growth characteristics and properties in relation to food safety.
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