The ability of the Bactigen® Salmonella Shigella (BSST), the Microscreen® (MS), and the Spectate® (SPECT) latex agglutination kits to detect Salmonella in pure cultures and in naturally contaminated foods was examined. Of 190 Salmonella strains tested, the MS, BSST, and SPECT systems correctly identified 89.5, 81.6, and 66.3% of the test cultures, respectively. The sensitivity of SPECT increased to 92.7% when only strains belonging to the targeted serogroups (somatic A to E plus G) and strains harboring the Vi antigen were considered. The lack of specificity of the MS (3.4%), SPECT (17.0%), and BSST (33.9%) systems with 59 cultures of nonsalmonellae varied widely, with Citrobacter freundii and Escherichia coli accounting for many of the false-positive reactions. Examination of foods according to the prescribed MS and SPECT analytical test protocols identified respectively, 18 (75%) and 19 (79.2%) of the 24 food samples found to contain Salmonella spp. by a standard cultural method. Although instructions with the BSST kit indicate that the product is intended for the analysis of clinical samples, the system nevertheless identified 21 (87.5%) contaminated food samples under homologous MS and SPECT test conditions. The concurrent use of TBG43 with enrichment media recommended by kit manufactures enhanced the sensitivities of MS (83.3%), SPECT (91.7%), and BSST (91.7%). Attempts to effect greater method brevity through the application of latex kits at various stages of the standard cultural procedure were counterproductive.

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