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Detection of Enterotoxigenic Psychrotrophic Presumptive Bacillus cereus and Cereulide Producers in Food Products and Ingredients

  • jovanovic;, jelena
Publication Date
Apr 16, 2022
DOI: 10.3390/toxins14040289
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In the last decade, foodborne outbreaks and individual cases caused by bacterial toxins showed an increasing trend. The major contributors are enterotoxins and cereulide produced by Bacillus cereus, which can cause a diarrheal and emetic form of the disease, respectively. These diseases usually induce relatively mild symptoms; however, fatal cases have been reported. With the aim to detected potential toxin producers that are able to grow at refrigerator temperatures and subsequently produce cereulide, we screened the prevalence of enterotoxin and cereulide toxin gene carriers and the psychrotrophic capacity of presumptive B. cereus obtained from 250 food products (cereal products, including rice and seeds/pulses, dairy-based products, dried vegetables, mixed food, herbs, and spices). Of tested food products, 226/250 (90.4%) contained presumptive B. cereus, which communities were further tested for the presence of nheA, hblA, cytK-1, and ces genes. Food products were mainly contaminated with the nheA B. cereus carriers (77.9%), followed by hblA (64.8%), ces (23.2%), and cytK-1 (4.4%). Toxigenic B. cereus communities were further subjected to refrigerated (4 and 7 °C) and mild abuse temperatures (10 °C). Overall, 77% (94/121), 86% (104/121), and 100% (121/121) were able to grow at 4, 7, and 10 °C, respectively. Enterotoxin and cereulide potential producers were detected in 81% of psychrotrophic presumptive B. cereus. Toxin encoding genes nheA, hblA, and ces gene were found in 77.2, 55, and 11.7% of tested samples, respectively. None of the psychrotrophic presumptive B. cereus were carriers of the cytotoxin K-1 encoding gene (cytK-1). Nearly half of emetic psychrotrophic B. cereus were able to produce cereulide in optimal conditions. At 4 °C none of the examined psychrotrophs produced cereulide. The results of this research highlight the high prevalence of B. cereus and the omnipresence of toxin gene harboring presumptive B. cereus that can grow at refrigerator temperatures, with a focus on cereulide producers.

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