Parasitology Laboratory, Section for Microbiology, Immunology, and Parasitology, Department of Food Safety and Infection Biology, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, P.O. Box 8146 Dep, 0033 Oslo, Norway. Lucy.Robertson@nvh.no
An outbreak of waterborne cryptosporidiosis in a town in northern Sweden during winter 2010 resulted in the potential exposure of cured meat products to Cryptosporidium oocysts during their manufacture. The purpose of this work was to develop a method for analyzing cured meat products for contamination with Cryptosporidium oocysts and use this method to analyze potentially contaminated product samples. A simple method of elution, concentration, separation, and detection was used, based on work with other food matrices but adapted for the relatively high fat content of cured meat surfaces. Using spiking experiments, the recovery efficiency of this method was found to be over 60%. In the analysis of the potentially contaminated products, only one putative Cryptosporidium oocyst was detected, and this was sufficiently deformed so that it could not be confirmed as an oocyst; if it was an oocyst, it was considered to have been probably deformed and inactivated prior to analysis. Based on the results of the analyses, together with data on the probable extent of contamination of the products and on our knowledge of factors, such as water activity, which affect oocyst survival, the products were safely released to the market.