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Int J Food Microbiol. 2015 Sep 16;209:3-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2014.08.010. Epub 2014 Aug 11.

Prevalence of major foodborne pathogens in food confiscated from air passenger luggage.

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Institute for Milk Hygiene, Milk Technology and Food Science, University for Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria; Veterinarians Without Borders, Austria. Electronic address:
Institute for Milk Hygiene, Milk Technology and Food Science, University for Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria.
Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety, Graz, Austria.


The EU has issued several directives and regulations pertaining to the importation of animals and products of animal origin (POAO) and veterinary controls on importation. Unfortunately, little information is available concerning associated risks and no attempts have been made to collect baseline data on the actual prevalence of zoonotic agents in POAO carried by travellers. To meet these challenges the EU recently introduced and financed a research project "PROMISE". Its main objectives were to assess the risks involved when foodborne pathogens are introduced to the EU via uncontrolled imports. With special permission of the Austrian health authorities, spot-checks were made of the luggage of 61,355 passengers from 240 flights from non-EU countries arriving at the Vienna International Airport (VIE airport). Over a period of eight months (August 2012 through March 2013) 1473 POAO items were confiscated. A total of 600 samples were suitable for Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., verotoxigenic Escherichia coli and Listeria monocytogenes prevalence analysis. Foodborne pathogens could be detected in 5% (30/600) of all samples. The highest prevalence was attributed to L. monocytogenes, at 2.5%, followed by VTEC and Salmonella spp. at 1.3% and 1.2%, respectively. Campylobacter spp. was not present in any of the 600 samples. Multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) of L. monocytogenes revealed that current sequence types (ST) corresponded to the worldwide most present clonal complexes 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, and 121. Generally, L. monocytogenes ST9 was the predominant allelic profile, which was mainly isolated from Turkish meat products.


Airport; Bush meat; Coagulase positive staphylococci; Listeria monocytogenes; Salmonella spp.; Verotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC)

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