A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay based on a solution hybridization format with colorimetric end-point detection (PCR ELISA) was investigated for the specific detection of Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli in food samples following enrichment culture. One hundred fifteen samples of raw meat and offal (poultry, porcine, ovine, and bovine), raw shellfish, and artificially contaminated milk were enriched in blood-free Campylobacter Enrichment Broth for 48 h. Enrichment cultures were subcultured to Campylobacter blood-free selective agar plates, and presumptive isolates were identified by phenotypic methods. DNA was extracted from 1-ml aliquots of the enrichment cultures using a rapid extraction method, and the DNA was used as the template in a PCR ELISA. A comparison of the PCR ELISA with the enrichment culture and subculture to selective agar method showed that the results of 112 of the 115 samples tested were in agreement by both methods. Seventy-one of the various food samples were positive in the PCR ELISA, and 70 samples were positive by culture. The PCR ELISA had a sensitivity of 99% and a specificity of 96%, with a positive predictive value of 97% and a negative predictive value of 98%. The PCR ELISA is a rapid, sensitive, and specific method for the detection of C. jejuni and C. coli in foods following enrichment culture and significantly reduces the time required for their detection.

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Author notes

Present address: National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.