Occurrence and characterization of Arcobacter spp. from ready-to-eat vegetables produced in Southern Italy
Given that the number of foodborne illness outbreaks linked to the consumption of ready-to-eat vegetables has been widely documented and considering that data on the occurrence of Arcobacter spp. in such foodstuffs are lacking, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the presence of Arcobacter spp. and the occurrence of virulence factors as well as to genotype Arcobacter spp. in ready-to-eat (RTE) vegetable samples, using cultural and biomolecular assays. Arcobacter spp. was detected in 16/110 (14.5%) samples, with A. butzleri being detected in 15/16 and A. cryaerophilus in 1/16 isolates. PCRs aimed at the nine putative virulence genes demonstrated widespread distribution of such genes among A. butzleri and A. cryaerophilus isolates. In addition, multilocus sequence type (MLST) analysis revealed a low genetic diversity within the arcobacters isolates. The results underline the need to develop an appropriate surveillance system based on biomolecular characterization for an integrated microbiological risk assessment of ready-toeat vegetables, and consequently of composite foods.
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