A newly revised International Standard for the detection of Salmonella is expected to help laboratories determine if the levels of Salmonella contamination are within the safety limits to human or animal health.
Published by ISO (International Organization for Standardization), ISO 6579, Microbiology of food and animal feeding stuffs – Horizontal method for the detection of Salmonella spp., provides a reference method for detecting the presence of Salmonella which will be applied to all types of food and feed before being put on the market for human and animal consumption. This fourth edition has been updated to take into account a new safer and environmentally friendly test and gives an account of the performance characteristics of the detection method, obtained through an interlaboratory trial.
Salmonella can cause Salmonellosis – an infection which causes severe diarrhoea, bloody stools which may require hospitalization and in some rare cases, even cause death – and is recognized as the first cause of food-borne illnesses at the international level. Salmonellosis is transmitted through the consumption of foods which have been contaminated during production and/or handling as well as foods which have been contaminated by stools of an infected person or animal.
The new ISO standard provides laboratories with a method for detecting most strains of Salmonella in products intended for human consumption and the feeding of animals as well as in environmental samples taken from the food production and handling area. The new standard will provide an added assurance that food products meet the mandatory hygiene specifications for Salmonella and will ensure that products intended for consumption will not be dangerous to both animal and human health.
“ISO 6579 is expected to provide a common detection method, whose performances have been well established and which should be fully recognized at the international level. In particular, AOAC International (Association of Official Analytical Chemists International) in the United States is to approve it as an “official method”, thanks to the inter-laboratory trial performed both in the United States and in Europe and funded by the European Commission,” said Mr. Bertrand Lombard, Chair of ISO/TC 34, SC 9.
In view of the wide variety of existing detection methods for Salmonella, ISO 6579 is expected to result in a harmonization of these methods through the acceptance of common detection results. It is envisaged that when such alternative methods are reviewed they will be changed to comply with ISO 6579 so that eventually the only remaining departures from this method will be those necessary for well-established technical reasons.
The new ISO standard is likely to be used by laboratories involved in the control and inspection of food, laboratories from the food and drink industry as well as various public or private laboratories detecting the presence of Salmonella.
The new edition of ISO 6579, along with other reference methods for pathogens in foods, has been adopted in parallel by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), in order to avoid the duplication of work in microbiology and provide food producers, laboratories and official authorities worldwide mutual benefits of ISO International Standards.