Rapid and reliable detection of foodborne pathogens – Exploring Campylobacter ecology in enrichments to improve detection
Campylobacter spp. are important food pathogens and the major cause of zoonotic stomach flu worldwide. Food is a major transmission route for the most pathogenic species, which means that reliable detection procedures need to be in place to help ensure food safety. Because Campylobacter is often present in food products only in low numbers, food samples need to be enriched for campylobacters to grow and reach amounts that can be detected using common procedures. However, the current enrichment-based detection procedures sometimes fail to reliably detect campylobacters due to the presence of other microorganisms, so-called ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae. Moreover, the current procedures are labour-intensive and it can take up to a week to obtain results.
In this thesis we studied the ecology of Campylobacter and ESBL-producers to better understand their behaviour during enrichment. We were able to develop a molecular detection method and combined enrichment with molecular detection which decreases the detection time from approximately 7 days to less than two days.