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ARS Home » Plains Area » College Station, Texas » Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center » Food and Feed Safety Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #256202

Title: Clostridium difficile in retail meat and processing plants in Texas

item Harvey, Roger
item Norman, Keri - Texas A&M University
item Andrews, Kathleen - Kate
item Norby, Bo - Texas A&M University
item Hume, Michael
item Scanlan, Charles - Texas A&M University
item Hardin, Margaret - Texas A&M University
item Scott, H - Kansas State University

Submitted to: Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/22/2011
Publication Date: 7/15/2011
Publication URL:
Citation: Harvey, R.B., Norman, K.N., Andrews, K., Norby, B., Hume, M.E., Scanlan, C.M., Hardin, M.D., Scott, H.M. 2011. Clostridium difficile in retail meat and processing plants in Texas. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation. 23:807-811.

Interpretive Summary: Clostridium difficile (Cd) is a bacterium that causes disease and death in humans, and historically the infection was acquired during hospital stays. Recently, more virulent strains that are community-acquired have emerged. Although the origin of the new strains is unknown, some speculate they are food-associated. In the present study, we sampled sausage and retail meat to determine the prevalence of Cd and detected a low (9.1%) level of Cd from processing plants and retail stores. Although not conclusive, these findings are important because it decreases the likelihood that Cd infections come from food sources.

Technical Abstract: The incidence and severity of disease associated with toxigenic Clostridium difficile (Cd) have increased in hospitals in North America from the emergence of newer, more virulent strains of Cd. Toxigenic Cd has been isolated from food animals and retail meat with potential implications of transfer to humans. The objective of the present study was to determine the prevalence of Cd in pork from sausage manufacturing plants and retail meat in Texas and to compare three cultivation techniques for isolation of Cd. We detected 20 Cd isolates from 221 meat samples (9.1%) from three sausage manufacturing plants and five different retail meat outlets from 2004 to 2009. Nineteen isolates were toxin A+, toxin B+, binary toxin-positive and were characterized as toxinotype V, PFGE type-NAP7, or “NAP7-variant” (91% similar). Antibiotic susceptibility patterns of our isolates to 11 antibiotics in this study generally were similar to those reported for toxinotype V isolates from meat, animals, or humans, although the present isolates tended to have slightly reduced resistance. Of the three cultivation techniques, an extended enrichment/extended incubation (20 days) technique proved superior to a standard enrichment/incubation (12 days) method or a validated state health laboratory procedure for isolation of Cd from meat samples.