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Chapter 26 : Clostridium perfringens in Food Service
Category: Applied and Industrial Microbiology; Food Microbiology
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Clostridium perfringens toxins are responsible for a variety of human and veterinary diseases. C. perfringens isolates are commonly classified into one of five types, A to E, based on their ability to produce four so-called lethal toxins, alpha, beta, epsilon, and iota. In addition to the enterotoxigenic nature of certain isolates, the two defining characteristics of C. perfringens’s role in foodborne illness are its potential growth rate and its ability to produce heat-resistant spores. Spore formation by C. perfringens is an important characteristic because (i) spores are able to survive cooking procedures while eliminating competitors, (ii) it is an essential classification tool, and (iii) enterotoxin formation is associated with sporulation. This chapter talks about in situ methods for cpe-positive C. perfringens, detection of enterotoxin, molecular methods, and location of the enterotoxin gene in C. perfringens isolates. The application of molecular techniques has had a tremendous impact on the diagnosis and investigation of C. perfringens food poisoning and nonfood-borne outbreaks. Reference laboratories are now able to determine rapidly and easily if isolates have the potential to cause diarrheal disease and through the use of discriminatory molecular typing methods provide evidence that cpe-positive strains from humans and foods have a common origin.