Given that changes in consumer food behaviours have led to an increase in the demand for pre-cut ready-to-eat (RTE) vegetables, and that few data are currently available on the occurrence of Arcobacter spp. in such foods, the aim of the present study was to assess the occurrence of Arcobacter spp. that carry virulence-associated genes on pre-cut RTE vegetables, using cultural and molecular methods. Arcobacter was detected using biomolecular identification methods in 44/160 (27.5%) of the samples, of which 40/44 (90.9%) isolates corresponded to A. butzleri and 4/44 (9.1%) to A. cryaerophilus. Studying the incidence of 9 virulence-associated genes revealed the widespread distribution of these genes among the Arcobacter isolates tested. The results obtained in our research provided plenty of information on the health risks associated with the direct consumption of raw vegetables, and highlight the need to implement further studies at each level of the production chain, in order to obtain further information to help protect human health.
Keywords: Arcobacter butzleri; Arcobacter cryaerophilus; Emerging food-borne pathogens; Pre-cut vegetables (ready-to-eat).
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