Incidence, diversity and toxin gene characteristics of Bacillus cereus group strains isolated from food products marketed in Belgium

S Samapundo, M Heyndrickx, R Xhaferi, F Devlieghere

    Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


    The major objectives of this study were to determine the incidence, diversity and characteristics of Bacillus cereus group spp. isolated from food products marketed in Belgium. The food products investigated in this study included cooked pasta, lasagna, béchamel sauce, bolognaise sauce, fresh minced beef, fresh-cut vegetables and raw basmati rice. B. cereus group spp. were detected in 56.3% (324 of 575) of the samples giving rise to 380 strains. The highest incidence (100%) occurred in the raw basmati rice. Although only 10 (2.6%) of the 380 isolates were determined to be psychrotolerant (able to grow at =7°C), 25 (6.2%), 189 (49.7%) and 334 (87.9%) isolates were able to grow at mild temperature abuse conditions of 8°C, 9°C and 10°C, respectively. The large diversity of the isolates obtained (overall and between isolates obtained from the same product type) was highlighted by the results of the (GTG)(5) PCR fingerprinting of 80 selected isolates. Sixty-one of these 80 isolates belonged to 15 distinct clusters (=85% Pearson correlation) whereas the remaining 19 were each clustered separately. Further diversity was also found in the distribution of toxin genes as 16 different profiles were observed in the 80 selected isolates. Whilst none of 80 selected strains harboured the ces gene required for the production of the emetic toxin cereulide, 42 strains (52.5%) carried all seven genes required for the production of the diarrhoeal enterotoxins: haemolytic BL, non-haemolytic enterotoxin and cytotoxin K. The results of this study highlight not only the omnipresence but also the highly diverse ecology of B. cereus spp. within and across several food product types available on the retail market in Belgium. They should also provide the impetus for more studies to enable detailed risk assessment studies to be performed.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInternational journal of food microbiology
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)34-41
    Number of pages8
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • Bacillus cereus
    • Bacterial Toxins
    • Belgium
    • Biodiversity
    • Consumer Product Safety
    • Enterotoxins
    • Food Microbiology
    • Humans
    • Incidence
    • Vegetables


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