Research – Helicobacter pylori: A foodborne pathogen?


Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is an organism that is widespread in the human population and is sometimes responsible for some of the most common chronic clinical disorders of the upper gastrointestinal tract in humans, such as chronic-active gastritis, duodenal and gastric ulcer disease, low-grade B-cell mucosa associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma of the stomach, and gastric adenocarcinoma, which is the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide. The routes of infection have not yet been firmly established, and different routes of transmission have been suggested, although the most commonly accepted hypothesis is that infection takes place through the faecal-oral route and that contaminated water and foods might play an important role in transmission of the microorganism to humans. Furthermore, several authors have considered H. pylori to be a foodborne pathogen because of some of its microbiological and epidemiological characteristics. H. pylori has been detected in drinking water, seawater, vegetables and foods of animal origin. H. pylori survives in complex foodstuffs such as milk, vegetables and ready-to-eat foods. This review article presents an overview of the present knowledge on the microbiological aspects in terms of phenotypic characteristics and growth requirements of H. pylori, focusing on the potential role that foodstuffs and water may play in the transmission of the pathogen to humans and the methods successfully used for the detection of this microorganism in foodstuffs and water.

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