Research -Surveillance of berries sold on the Norwegian market for parasite contamination using molecular methods

Science Direct

water contamination

The risk of foodborne parasite infection linked to the consumption of contaminated fresh produce has long been known. However, despite epidemiological links between the outbreaks and contaminated berries, few studies have assessed the magnitude of parasite contamination on fresh produce sold in Europe. The present study was aimed to address the knowledge gap on parasite contamination of berries sold in Norway. Samples of blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries were analysed by multiplex qPCR for detection of Echinococcus multilocularisToxoplasma gondii, and Cyclospora cayetanensis. In addition, a simplex qPCR method was employed for detecting contamination of the berries with Cryptosporidium spp. A total of 820 samples of berries, each of around 30 g (274 samples of blueberries, 276 samples of raspberries, and 270 samples of strawberries), were analysed. We found an overall occurrence of 2.9%, 6.6%, and 8.3% for T. gondii, C. cayetanensis, and Cryptosporidium spp., respectively, whereas E. multilocularis was not detected from any of the samples investigated. Strawberries and raspberries were most often contaminated with Cryptosporidium spp., whereas blueberries were contaminated mostly with C. cayetanensis. Detection of parasite contaminants on fresh berries indicates the need for a system to ensure the parasitological safety of fresh berries.

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