Aims: To determine the genetic relatedness of Campylobacter spp. from retail meat products, and compare the discriminatory power of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and automatic ribotyping.
Methods and Results: A total of 378 Campylobacter isolates recovered from 159 raw meats (130 chicken, 25 turkey, three pork and one beef) sampled from 50 retail grocery stores of four supermarket chains in the Maryland suburban area from August 1999 to July 2000 were analysed by PFGE with SmaI, 120 isolates of which were also characterized by ribotyping with PstI using RiboPrinter® system. A total of 148 unique PFGE patterns were identified, 91 of which were present in multiple Campylobacter isolates and 24 in multiple meat samples. Nineteen Campylobacter clones with identical PFGE patterns recurred frequently (up to nine times) throughout the sampling period. Comparing ribotyping with PFGE, we identified 44 PFGE patterns and 22 RiboGroups among the 120 isolates tested. Multiple PFGE patterns within one RiboGroup were commonly observed, as well as multiple RiboGroups within one PFGE pattern.
Conclusions: Although Campylobacter present in retail meats were genetically diverse, certain clones persisted in poultry meats. PFGE had a greater discriminatory power than ribotyping, and the two methods were complementary in genotyping Campylobacter.
Significance and Impact of the Study: Genomic DNA fingerprinting of Campylobacter confirmed diverse and recurrent Campylobacter clones in the retail meats, which provides additional data for a better understanding of the epidemiological aspect of Campylobacter infection.