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Keywords:

  • Campylobacter jejuni;
  • consumer food-handling practices;
  • cross-contamination;
  • Lactobacillus casei;
  • hygiene

Abstract

Aims:  To determine the effect of hygiene measures on cross-contamination of Campylobacter jejuni at home and to select a safe tracer organism for C. jejuni.

Methods and Results:  Comparative tests were conducted with nonpathogenic Escherichia coli and Lactobacillus casei and L. casei was chosen as the safe tracer organism. Salads containing chicken breast fillet contaminated with a known number of C. jejuni and L. casei were prepared according to different cross-contamination scenarios and contamination levels of salads were determined. Cross-contamination could be strongly reduced when cleaning cutting board and cutlery with hot water (68°C), but generally was not prevented using consumer-style cleaning methods for hands and cutting board.

Conclusions:  Dish-washing does not sufficiently prevent cross-contamination, thus different cutting boards for raw meat and other ingredients should be used and meat–hand contact should be avoided or hands should be thoroughly cleaned with soap. Lactobacillus casei can be used as a safe tracer organism for C. jejuni in consumer observational studies.

Significance and Impact of the Study:  Cross-contamination plays an important role in the transmission of food-borne illness, especially for C. jejuni. This study delivers suitable data to quantitatively assess the risk of campylobacteriosis caused by cross-contamination and it shows the effect of different preventive hygiene measures.