Influence of rainfall on E. coli concentrations in clams: results of collaboration between competent health authority and producers’ association in the province of Fermo (Italy)

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Valentina Gentili *
Loredana Di Giacomo
Sandro Fichera
Antonio Angellotti
Paolo Ascani
Ezio Ferretti
Angeliki Riganatou
Anna Rita Loschi
Stefano Rea
(*) Corresponding Author:
Valentina Gentili | gentili.vale@gmail.com

Abstract

The Area Vasta di Fermo (the competent health authority of the Marche Region), in collaboration with the local producers’ Association conducted a series of studies on the presence of E. coli as an indicator of faecal contamination in the environment, in shellfish and in fishery waters, and on the factors that can affect their presence. These studies, carried out from 2008 to 2011, included an assessment of the currents along the coast, of the precipitations, and data from the monitoring of E. coli on shellfish harvested in the collection areas were examined. The results showed that in most cases, small concentrations of microorganisms in shellfish corresponded to little or no precipitations, while an increase in the levels of E. coli was preceded by more or less abundant rainfalls. The conclusions suggest that it is advisable to carry out a more detailed risk analysis which should take into account the above-mentioned factors. Furthermore, monitoring alone based on the determination of indicator organisms, especially when carried out as a single analysis or with a small number of E. coli determinations, does not provide a satisfactory indication of safety. The regional surveillance plans should be applied timely and rigorously, together with onsite investigations aimed at identifying changes that can affect the presence of E. coli in shellfish. Food business operators themselves could implement good manufacturing practices to verify whether the microbiological parameters are within the prescribed limits after rainfalls, especially if heavy.

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