Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) - Diagnostic challenges and impact on food supply

Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) - Diagnostic challenges and impact on food supply

This webinar was originally hosted by SelectScience on July 13, 2021.

Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) is the third most important zoonosis in humans and is an increasing cause of foodborne outbreaks and sporadic clinical cases. It is a serious disease in children, where it is the cause of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Its detection in foods represents a significant challenge for laboratories, where tested samples are quite often positive with real-time PCR during screening, but often negative with plate-based detection.

In this webinar presented by Dr Aurora Ciarrocchi, PhD and Francesco Pomilio DVM, the figures from the past five years of diagnostic activity of the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Abruzzo e del Molise (IZSAM) are reported. A total of 1,716 foods and environmental samples were analyzed in order to detect STEC with ISO/TS13136:2012. Samples were gathered during official and routine control in the Abruzzo and Molise regions of Italy. The STEC genotypes and epidemiological situation in Italy and EU are also reported.

As this diagnostic method remains a challenge, it is under investigation and proposed improvements are being checked and validated by external laboratories. The results of an inter-laboratory study for the validation of a new method, proposed by Thermo Fisher Scientific and organized by ADRIA in 2020, are also detailed during the presentation.

About the speakers:

Aurora Ciarrocchi, PhD

Aurora Ciarrocchi, PhD, is an Italian biotechnologist, she graduated in Medical Biotechnology at the University of L’Aquila and she achieved a PhD in Food Science at the University of Teramo (Italy). She completed a 2° level Master Degree in “IPTT - Intellectual/industrial property & technological transfer” at University of L’Aquila. In 2017 she moved to Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Abruzzo e del Molise and since 2019 she works in the Unit of Food hygiene, involved in official controls and research projects, main bacteria of interest are E. coli STEC and Klebsiella pneumoniae in feed, food and environmental samples.

Francesco Pomilio DVM

Francesco Pomilio DVM, he is Head of the Hygiene in Food Technology Unit at IZSAM and he works for the Italian National Reference Laboratory for Listeria monocytogenes.

His main areas of expertise are related to: food and feed safety, dealing in particular with L. monocytogenes; validation of microbiological analytical methods; challenge test and shelf life studies in food; development of the Italian database of isolates - SEAP (Italian data collection system on Foodborne pathogens), prevalence and persistence of L. monocytogenes in food producing plants, biofilm formation in vitro test.

His recent research activities have focused on foodborne outbreak caused by L. monocytogenes, tracing and source attribution. The activities of the NRL include WGS through Next Generation Sequencing technologies including genomics and transcriptomics studies.