<OL> <LI> To compare methods for qualitative detection of C. difficile in retail meat.
<LI>To determine the detection threshold of C. difficile detection for different methods.
<LI>To determine compare methods for quantification of C. difficile in retail meat.
<LI>To determine optimal methods for quantitative and qualitative detection of C. difficile in meat based on sensitivity, repeatability, cost and ease.
<LI>To determine the prevalence of C. difficile in retail meat products using optimal standardized protocols.
<LI>To quantify C. difficile levels in retail meat products.
<LI>To characterize C. difficile isolates from retail meat and compare them to strains found in humans and animals.
<LI>To determine whether multiple C. difficile strains are present in contaminated retail meat products.
Determination of optimal techniques to detect and quantify C. difficile in meat is required for studies evaluating retail meat and the role of food in C. difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD). This will complement studies evaluating community-associated CDAD and provided needed information for determination foodborne risks. This is important for human health and for the agricultural industry. Determination of a low risk would help control concerns about the safety of meat products. In contrast, if C. difficile is determined to be a relevant foodborne pathogen, information regarding testing is required for ongoing research aimed at identifying and controlling sources of contamination. Therefore, much of the information that is needed regarding C. difficile and food requires objective evaluation of testing methodologies. <P> For more information, please visit the <a href="http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/research/foodsafety/index.html" target="_blank">Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) Food Safety Research Program</a>.