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Clostridium perfringens

Clostridium perfringens is widely distributed in the environment and frequently found in intestines of both humans and animals, hence is likely to be present in foods of animal origin and vegetables exposed to soil, dust or faecal material. The organism is not uncommonly found in food.

The organism is a spore-forming bacterium, which is able to form heat resistant spores under unfavourable condition, e.g. limited nutrient availability. Although the bacterium is an anaerobe, which grows in the absence of oxygen, it can tolerate low oxygen level for some time. The organism is characterised by their high optimum growth temperature, around 43°C–45°C, but unable to grow at temperature lower than 12°C. It can double its number as fast as every 10 minutes under optimum growth conditions, probably with the fastest growth rate among all foodborne bacteria.

Food poisoning caused by Clostridium perfringens is usually associated with inadequately cooked foods and cooked foods that are cooled for prolonged period or stored under sub-optimal temperature. Heat of cooking can activate the germination of spores which survive in anaerobic conditions like inside internal cavities, rolls of meat, stuffed poultry, or gravies. The organism can then multiply in the area where oxygen level is low; cooling of food at ambient temperature for a long period allows rapid multiplication of the bacterium. Intake of the food containing large number of the organisms allows sufficient amount to survive the passage through stomach, which subsequently form spores accompanied with toxin in the intestine. Hence, foods prepared in bulk, especially cooked meat and poultry dishes, and stored at ambient temperatures with a long cooling period after cooking are at high risk.

Enviro Labs is a professional microbial laboratory which could help traders / customers to find whether their food is contaminated with Clostridium perfringens. Call us at 2676 2983 or e-mail for further questions about the services.


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