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Development and Validation of Methods for the Detection and Characterisation of Verocytotoxin-Producing Escherichia coli in Foods


The objective of this study is to develop a robust, reliable method for the detection of VTEC in food and to validate this method for a range of food types. <BR>

<p>Suitable methods for characterisation of VTEC isolated from foods will be investigated and recommendations made as to the most informative procedures. <BR>

<p>This holistic approach will allow the FSA and other food agencies to carry out surveillance programmes. This will enable scientists to identify the major foodborne sources of VTEC, establish the route of transmission, the results will be invaluable in risk assessment and developing strategies. <BR>

<p>It will also enable those involved in food safety, manufacture and retail to take proactive approach to the prevention of contamination of foods with VTEC.<BR>

<p>1. Development of a screening protocol for detection of VTEC in foods <ul>
<li>Optimisation of enrichment growth of VTEC from foods

<li>Investigation of PCR based assays for the detection of VTEC
<li>Assessment of commercial immunoassays for toxin detection
<li>Development of an assay for the recognition of VT producing colonies </li>

<p>2. Validation methods<ul>
<li>Comparative study to determine the specificity, limit of detection and relative accuracy of the method

<li>Collaborative study for the validation of the test protocol with a range of artificially contaminated food

<li>Pilot study to assess the methods with a range of naturally contaminated but uninoculated foods </li>

More information

Verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) are a major cause of haemorrahagic colitis and haemolytic uraemic syndrome in man.
<p>E. coli O157:H7 is the most common serotype associated with the disease but other non O157:H7 serotypes have also been implicated. The true incidence and clinical significance of non-O157 VTEC is unknown.
<p>Standard methods for the detection of non-O157 VTEC in foods are not available.
<p>It is essential that methods to detect non-O157 VTEC are developed to allow further study of these emerging pathogenic organisms. VTEC of serotypes O26 and O111 are already established human pathogens.

<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="; target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.

Public Health Laboratory Service
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