Microbiological and chemical contamination in different types of food of non-European origin
AbstractIn the markets of the European Union (EU) the presence of food imported from non-European countries such as Asia, Africa and America is increasingly more widespread. Non-European countries, indeed, are much more competitive in terms of prices compared to European countries. For these reasons, EU has issued important laws. The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of these regulations, estimating the levels of microbiological and chemical contamination of food samples of 91 different matrices imported from third countries. The microbiological methods used are those required by the UNI EN ISO, while for the determination of chemical parameters validated methods according to the Standard UNI EN ISO 16140:2003 were used. Our investigation revealed qualitative or quantitative microbial contamination in 23 out of 91 samples analysed (25.2%). We found high total microbial loads in alimentary conserves, multiple bacterial contamination (Salmonella thiphymurium, Escherichia coli and Vibrio alginolyticus) and viral contamination (Norovirus) in shellfish of the species Cassostrea gigas, and the presence of other pathogens in various products such as hamburgers (Yersinia enterocolitica), frozen fish (Listeria monocytogenes) and honey (Bacillus cereus). With regard to chemical contamination, 24 samples of different food products were analysed. In 9 samples (37.5%), the levels of the following substances exceeded the permitted limits: histamine (fish conserves), mercury (crab meat), cadmium (crab meat and fish conserves), lead (cheese and honey) and polyphosphates (chicken meat). Despite the limited number of samples analysed, these data prompt reflection on the need to implement a more detailed and rigorous activity of monitoring and control in order to guarantee adequate levels of safety with regard to the consumption of foodstuffs imported into the EU from non-European countries.
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Copyright (c) 2013 Francesco Casalinuovo, Vittorio Soprano, Pasquale Gallo, Paola Rippa
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