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Thermotolerant Campylobacter species are the most common bacterial cause of gastroenteritis. The humane campylobacteriosis is on the top of the notifiable bacterial infectious diseases in Germany with a permanentely increasing number of cases. The infection is predominantely associated with foodstuffs. Poultry meat and poultry products are providing the main risk factors.
The main objective of this study was to determine prevalence of thermotolerant Campylobacter species in the product range of a frozen food distributor using a risk biased sampling plan. 200 frozen food products were tested, 35% of the samples werde raw poultry meat, 35% cooked poultry meat and poultry meat products, 20% other meat and 10% of the samples were products of the rest product range. The investigation was implemented by using a cultural method (ISO 10272:1995) and simultaneously a molecular biological method (pg30/50 PCR-System by OYOFO et al. (1992). Using the cultural method Campylobacter species were detected in 11 out of 70 samples of the product group „Raw poultry meat“, which leads to an overall prevalence of 15,7%. All cultivated species were detected in two different products ('Chicken breast, unbreaded' and 'Whole chicken legs') which lead to an isolation rate of 24,4% out of that product group (n=45) while the two other raw chicken products ('Chicken breast, breaded' and 'Chicken breast, marinated') and the turkey products ('Turkey schnitzel' and 'Turkey barbecue steaks, marinated') and all samples from the other product groups were free of Campylobacter contamination. The prevalence of Campylobacter related to the total number of samples (n=200) amounted to 5,5%. The strategic approach to use a risk based sample plan was confirmed by the results of the study. The species characterization identified 8 isolates as C. jejuni (73%) and 3 isolates as C. coli. The PCR-System by OYOFO does not enable a differentiation between C. jejuni and C. coli. Proof of specific gen sequenzes of C. jejuni/C. coli were succeded in 11 cases and matched the results of the cultural method with a sensitivity and a specificity of 100%.