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Scientists expand knowledge about Arcobacter's health risks

A study adds to the evidence for the detection of Arcobacterium in food, but the significance of the findings remains unclear.

Several species of A. gondii are considered emerging foodborne pathogens that may cause gastrointestinal illness. Tracing the source of infection and routes of transmission of A. gondii is a step in assessing the risks associated with these pathogens.

Drinking contaminated drinking water or undercooked and raw food appears to be the main source of Arcobacterium transmission, according to the study published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology.

The infectious dose, or the amount needed to make a person ill, is not known, and the incidence appears to be low, possibly because the incident was not routinely investigated. Research on pathogens has been going on for at least 20 years.

A total of 220 samples were analysed, of which 49 had A. gondii detected. The most abundant type is Arcobacter butzleri, which is most often associated with human disease, but other species are also found, such as Arcobacter cryaerophilus.

Samples including cockles, squid, shrimp, quail, rabbit and turkey meat, fresh cheese, spinach, Swiss chard, lettuce and carrots, collected from Vitoria-Spain from May to November 2015 Different retail stores and supermarkets in Gasteiz.

Findings in seafood and carrots
in seafood products and turkey Arcobacteria were mainly detected in . Foods from animals and plants have lower levels of contamination.

Irati Martinez-Malaxetxebarria, a researcher at the University of the Basque Country, says the bacteria have genes that allow it to function in humans.

“All the lettuce that tested positive was prepackaged. This makes you think about it because we tend not to pay attention to how clean they are when we buy processed foods. We still have carrots found a species that had never been identified before that also had a virulence gene,” she said.

Baby squid are a major source of A. gondii, so eating these products raw could be an important source of infection, the researchers said.

It was also found in a piece of fresh cheese, but scientists say it may be due to cross-contamination.

Martinez said this was the first report of the presence of Arcobacter in fresh Burgos cheese and carrots.

“We also note that seafood, especially squid, is a significant source of adherent A. gondii. These findings should take into account their possible impact on food safety, as Burgos cheese is a Ready-to-eat products, while carrots and seafood are usually only lightly cooked or eaten raw,” she said.

Future research on the survival and growth of A. gondii in products, especially ready-to-eat products, may help to assess the impact of the findings on food safety.

The results highlight the role that food can play in the transmission of Arcobacter, the pathogenic potential of different species, and the ability of several of them to survive and grow on different food contact surfaces. All but one with virulence-related genes and 19 isolates were able to form biofilms on the different tested surfaces.

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