A collaborative study on a Nordic standard protocol for detection and enumeration of thermotolerant Campylobacter in food (NMKL 119, 3. Ed., 2007)
A Nordic standard protocol for detection and enumeration of thermotolerant Campylobacter in food has been elaborated (NMKL 119, 3. Ed., 2007). Performance and precision characteristics of this protocol were evaluated in a collaborative study with participation of 14 laboratories from seven European countries. The laboratories performed qualitative, semi-quantitative and quantitative analyses on samples of chicken meat, cut lettuce, and milk artificially inoculated with different concentrations including blank duplicates of one strain of Campylobacter coli (SLV-271) and one strain of Campylobacter jejuni (SLV-542). Expected concentrations (95% C.I.) (cfu g^-^1 or ml^-^1) of both strains in matrices were 0.6-1.4 and 23-60 for qualitative detection, and 0.6-1.4; 23-60; and 420-1200 for semi-quantitative detection. For quantitative determination, the expected concentrations of C. jejuni/C. coli were 420-1200/580-1100; 2100-6000/6300-11,000; and 4100-11,000/53,000-97,000 cfu g^-^1 or ml^-^1. The qualitative and semi-quantitative techniques resulted in comparable detection. The overall specificity and sensitivity of the detection techniques was 98.6% (95% C.I.: 95.1-99.8%) and 82.8% (C.I.: 78.4-86.6%), respectively. The sensitivity was not influenced by food matrix (P=0.359), but was significantly lower for C. coli compared to C. jejuni (P=0.007) and for concentrations below 1.4 cfu g^-^1 (P0 1.88. We suggest that the poor detection of low numbers, the underestimation in milk samples, and the large variation between laboratories can be explained by the general difficulties in handling Campylobacter. In conclusion, NMKL 119, 3. Ed., 2007, is regarded as an acceptable protocol for detection of thermotolerant Campylobacter at concentrations above 25 cfu g^-^1 and also for enumeration of thermotolerant Campylobacter in chicken meat.
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