Microbiological survey addresses knowledge gaps in microbial quality of beef mince sold in Scotland.
Concerned by a trend for rare burgers and the number of outbreaks associated with beef mince contaminated with pathogenic bacteria ,Food Standards Scotland commissioned a survey to establish a baseline for the microbiological quality of fresh beef mince from retail outlets across Scotland .
The project was awarded to Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), with project partners, the three Public Analyst laboratories at Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow; the two Scottish Microbiological Reference Laboratories (SMiRL) at Edinburgh (Scottish E. coli O157 & STEC Reference Laboratory, SERL) and Glasgow (Scottish Salmonella, Shigella & C. difficile Reference Laboratory) and the University of Aberdeen.
1009 samples were purchased throughout 2019 and processed at the three Public Analyst laboratories for Campylobacter, Salmonella and genes indicating the possible presence of either STEC, or 0157 E.coli. Presumptive STEC positive samples were confirmed by culture and isolation. Pathogenic isolates were whole genome sequenced (WGS) at the SmiRLS.
One sample tested positive for Campylobacter, three for Salmonella and 35 confirmed as STEC positive. WGS data placed results into the context of the occurrence of these pathogens in humans and cattle.
The survey also identified the same strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7. in a sample of minced beef sold by a retailer implicated in a concurrent investigation by Public Health surveillance teams in England and Scotland. Providing microbiological evidence of a link.
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