Scientists expand knowledge on Alcobacter health risks
Evidence has been added that Alcobacter has been detected in food, but the significance of the results is still unknown.
Several species of Arcobacter are considered emerging foodborne pathogens and can cause gastrointestinal illness. Tracing the source and route of transmission of Arcobacter is a step towards assessing the risks associated with these agents.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology, consumption of contaminated drinking water and undercooked raw food appear to be the main sources of Arcobacter transmission.
The infectious dose, or the amount required for people to become ill, is not clear, and the incidence appears to be low, probably because the event is not routinely investigated.
A total of 220 samples were analyzed, of which Arcobacter was detected in 49. The most abundant type was Arcobacter butzleri, which is most often associated with human disease, although other species such as Arcobacter cryaerophilus were found.
Samples of cockles, squid, shrimp, quail, rabbit, turkey meat, fresh cheese, spinach, chard, lettuce, carrots, etc. from May to November 2015 at various retailers and supermarkets in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Purchased from
Seafood and carrot findings
Arcobacters were mainly found in seafood products and turkey meat. Foods of animal and vegetable origin showed lower contamination levels.
University of the Basque Country researcher Irati Martinez-Malaxetxebarria said the bacterium has a gene that gives it the ability to cause infections in humans.
“All the lettuce that tested positive was prepackaged. It makes me think a little because when we buy processed food, we often don’t pay attention to how clean it is.” We also detected a previously uncharacterized species in carrot that also carries a virulence gene,” she said.
Baby squid was a major source of infection with Arcobacter, so eating these products raw could be a significant source of infection, researchers say.
It was also found in fresh cheese, but scientists said this was probably due to cross-contamination.
Martinez said this is the first time Arcobacter species have been reported to be present in fresh Burgos cheese and carrots.
“We also noted that seafood, especially squid, is an important source of Adhesive Arcobacter. These findings must be taken into account for their potential impact on food safety.
Future studies on Arcobacter survival and growth in products, especially ready-to-eat products, may help assess the implications of the findings for food safety.
The results highlight the role that food can have in the transmission of Arcobacter, the pathogenic potential of various species, and the ability of some of them to survive and grow on various food contact surfaces. All but one and 19 isolates carrying virulence-associated genes were able to form biofilms on the various surfaces tested.
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