The Continued Search for Suitable Surrogates for Clostridium Botulinum

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Join the Department of Food Science and Nutrition for this FDSN Seminar Series event featuring guest speaker Kristin Schill, associate scientist at University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Food Research Institute (FRI).

Consumer demand for minimally processed, wholesome, yet safe food commodities, especially sous-vide products, refrigerated processed foods of extended durability (REPFED) and low acid canned foods continues to grow. Key target pathogens for these foods are heat resistant Group I proteolytic Clostridium botulinum, and the less heat resistant, but psychrotrophic Group II nonproteolytic C. botulinum. Spores of C. botulinum are widely distributed in the environment and their association with a diverse range of food commodities including, meat, fish, vegetables, and dairy components implicated in botulism outbreaks necessitates its stringent control. Therefore, food manufacturers are required to implement validated strategies to control C. botulinum either by providing a lethality step to ensure total spore destruction or through product formulation to inhibit growth and toxin production.

The strict USDA/CDC regulations required for working with C. botulinum and its toxins and the extreme biohazardous risk of this organism obstruct the routine use of this organism in challenge studies required to validate strategies to control C. botulinum growth and toxin production in foods. Clostridium sporogenes PA 3679 has been adopted as a suitable thermal processing surrogate for group I (proteolytic) C. botulinum, however, there are currently no validated surrogates for growth inhibition studies for proteolytic or nonproteolytic C. botulinum. The goal of this presentation is to provide an overview of C. botulinum and the current thermal processing surrogate C. sporogenes PA3679 and discuss the current needs and approaches for identifying or genetically constructing an appropriate surrogate, and the challenges encountered with those methodologies.   

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