The Enterobacteriaceae and Their Significance to the Food Industry

ILSI Europe Report Series. 2011:1-48

Some members of the Enterobacteriaceae have had a large impact on infectious diseases, clinical microbiology and public health. They are involved in diarrhoeal diseases and recognised as one of the major bacterial food-borne pathogens. New scientific and ecological advances have revealed an expansion of the area of Enterobacteriaceae, including emerging pathogenic strains. The ILSI Europe expert group therefore reviewed the potential impacts of these microorganisms on food safety and microbiological risk assessment. The report focuses on advances in taxonomy, virulence characteristics, survival and persistence of Coliforms and Enterobacteriaceae. There are currently 48 genera and 219 species recognised within the Enterobacteriaceae and these numbers are likely to increase in the future. Consequently, there have been many changes in bacterial taxonomy resulting in the introduction of new genera and species and the reclassification of some existing bacteria belonging to the Enterobacteriaceae. Methods for the detection and enumeration of Enterobacteriaceae have changed little since they were first introduced and many still rely on the growth of the bacterium in selective media along with the use of carbohydrate (e.g. glucose) as an energy source. In contrast, several rapid methods are now available for detection of specific pathogenic members of the Enterobacteriaceae found in foods including Salmonella and E. coli O157. The initial Enterobacteriaceae contamination level in the raw materials is predominantly governed by Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) during primary production and subsequently during slaughter of livestock at the abattoir. Further along the food supply chain, contamination by Enterobacteriaceae, including pathogens, must be prevented or controlled by the application of one or more of the acknowledged quality assurance systems including Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

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