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Epidemiol Infect. 1996 Apr;116(2):147-53.

Presence of Salmonella spp. and Campylobacter spp. in shellfish.

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Northern Ireland Public Health Laboratory, Bacteriology Department, Belfast City Hospital, UK.


Bivalve molluscs, (cockles, mussels, scallops and oysters) were examined according to EC shellfish bed classification regulations for faecal coliforms, Escherichia coli and salmonella, and for coliforms and campylobacter which are not specified by these regulations. Salmonella serotypes were detected in 8% of 433 molluscs. Seven salmonella isolations (2%) were made from category A beds, nominally suitable for immediate consumption according to E. coli counts. A higher percentage of salmonella isolates (6%) was detected in shellfish which require relaying or depuration prior to eating. In another survey, thermophilic Campylobacter spp. were found in 42% of 380 shellfish. These findings show bed classification on the basis of indicator organisms alone is not sufficient to assure the absence of bacterial, and no doubt viral, pathogens. Depuration and end product specifications which require the absence of salmonellae are an essential part of these regulations. Microbiologists may wish to consider whether tests for pathogens such as salmonella and campylobacter should be included when determining the suitability of shellfish for human consumption.

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