Campylobacter is a genus of gram-negative, mainly spiral-shaped or S-shaped bacteria. The genus Campylobacter currently has 17 species and 6 subspecies. It requires a microaerobic atmosphere to grow. Campylobacter species can be found everywhere and is widely present in the liver, intestines, and other organs of a variety of warm-blooded animals, such as poultry, pigs, and cattle. It also has been found in shellfish. The bacteria cycles through the environment by passing through the body in the feces.
Figure 1. Electron micrograph of Campylobacter and related contaminated foods
Campylobacter is often associated with raw or undercooked poultry. It can also be transmitted by other foods including meat, produce, and seafood. After eating or touching the contaminated foods or untreated water, people can get Campylobacter infection (also called campylobacteriosis). People can also be infected by Campylobacter through contact with the feces of cats or dogs. Fresh produce and fruits can be contaminated through the contact with water or soil containing animals’ feces. Campylobacter is very sensitive to high temperature and can be easily killed during thorough cooking process to a safe minimum internal temperature. Appropriate safe food handling and hygiene practices need to be followed to minimize the risk of Campylobacter infection.
Campylobacter is one of the most common bacteria to cause the diarrheal illness. There are an estimated 1.5 million illnesses that are caused by Campylobacter in the United States each year. Symptoms of Campylobacter infection include (bloody) diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever. People usually can recover from the infection on their own within several days, but sometimes they may need antibiotic treatment. The Campylobacter infection may cause severe health impacts especially for young children.
Even though Campylobacter cannot grow or multiply in foods due to the specific requirement of growth conditions of Campylobacter species. The level of Campylobacter to cause people sick (infective dose) is usually very low (approximate 500 – 1000 cells). There have been volunteer studies showing that only 800 bacterial cells are able to cause Campylobacter infection in healthy adults. The dose-response relationship can vary between different Campylobacter species. Microbiological standards for Campylobacter specify the bacteria should not be present in a 25 g sample of ready-to-eat foods.
Campylobacter Testing of Food at Creative Proteomics
The standard methods (EN/ISO and FDA BAM) that have been widely used to isolate and detect Campylobacter are culture-based methods using general microbiological testing supplies. Campylobacter is isolated by culturing on selective medium followed by the incubation for appropriate time. An additional pre-enrichment step is needed for food and environmental samples to facilitate the recovery of damaged cells. Enrichment step is performed using a selective enrichment medium. The identification of Campylobacter after isolation is determined based on their biochemical, morphological, and growth characteristics. We have expertise in the sample preparation of different types of food matrices.
Creative Proteomics offer accurate and validated testing platforms for the isolation and detection of Campylobacter in various food samples to meet customers’ needs. We also have experience working on different standards and regulations.
Platform: Culture-based method
Limit of detection: Qualitative test per sample size (negative/positive)
Sample type: Solid and liquid food samples
Sample size: 25 g most samples (50 g vegetables)
* Not intended for personal food safety testing.