Prevalence of Clostridium difficile in retail meat products in north-eastern Italy

Abstract number: O159

Drigo I., Bacchin C., Tonon E., Mazzolini E., Bano L., Bonci M., Favretti M., Marcati M., Rossetto K., Cocchi M., Agnoletti F.

Recent studies conducted in Canada, United States and Sweden pointed out that Clostridium difficile spores are present in retail ground meat thus suggesting that meat could act as food source of Clostridium difficile for human infections.

Objectives: The aim of this pilot study was to estimate the occurrence of Clostridium difficile in minced beef and pork at retail in North-Eastern Italy.

Methods: The cross-sectional study was performed in February-March, 2008, in 150 retail outlets randomly sampled in 3 provinces of North-Eastern Italy. Among those 3 provinces retailer's sample size was proportional to resident population. In each sampled retailer one laboratory sample of minced beef and one of pork was randomly collected. Each sample was microbiologically processed using the Clostridium difficile selective medium Cefoxitine Cycloserine Fructose broth (added with Taurocolate). After 10 days of incubation broth cultures were plated on blood agar base, horse blood red cells added (5% v/v), and tested by PCR for detection of Clostridium difficile DNA according to Penders (2005). The presence of toxins A and B in the broth culture was evaluated by Techlab C.diff quik chek complete kit (Techlab). A positive control (meat experimentally infected with Clostridium difficile spores) was carried out simultaneously with each batch of the experimental samples.

Results: In total 300 (150 pork and 150 beef) samples were analyzed. All samples were negative for Clostridium difficile both at the microbiological and PCR analysis. Search for Toxin A and B gave negative result as well.

Conclusion: Although public health relevance of Clostridium difficile contaminated food is yet to be clarified, these preliminary results prompt to consider that ground beef and pork do not represent a risk factor for human infection in North-East of Italy. Our findings are supported by those of Von Abercron (2009), who found a low prevalence (2%) of Clostridium difficile contaminated ground meet in Sweden. Differently Rodriguez-Palacios (2007) and Weese (2009) in Canada, and Songer (2007) in United States reported 12–20% and 42%, respectively, prevalence of Clostridium difficile contaminated ground meat. These apparently conflicting results may be due to different prevalence of Clostridium difficile at fatted calf and swine primary production or to different hygiene both at slaughterhouse and at retail outlets. The hypothesis should be further investigated.

Session Details

Date: 10/04/2010
Time: 00:00-00:00
Session name: Abstracts 20th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Location: Vienna, Austria, 10 - 13 April 2010
Presentation type:
Back to top