Sensitive PCR Method for Detection of Escherichia coli 0157:H7 and Other Shiga toxin-producing Bacteria in Ground Meat
Sensitivity of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) procedure was evaluated for Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Shiga toxin gene (stx) detection in ground beef and ground pork at contamination levels of 0.14, 1.4, and 14 colony forming units per gram (CFU/g) of meat. The PCR procedure, developed during our previous research, amplifies three target genes simultaneously: uidA that is specific for E. coli O157:H7, and stx1 and stx2, the genes for Shiga toxins 1 and 2, respectively. Detection of the uidA gene by the PCR was 91% sensitive in beef and 55% sensitive in pork, and 90% and 71% sensitive for stx gene detection in beef and pork, respectively. In comparison, detection of E. coli O157:H7 by culture, done simultaneously with PCR, was 53% sensitive in beef and 11% sensitive in pork. Results indicate that this PCR procedure is a rapid and sensitive method for STEC and E. coli O157:H7 detection in meat at contamination levels less than 1 CFU/g.