Testing for 'total' Enterobacteriaceae, coliforms and Escherichia coli as marker organisms in foods and detection of specific pathogens of the family Enterobacteriaceae, including pathogenic E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella and Yersinia spp. is widely applied in many food control laboratories. This review describes some recent developments in culture media for these organisms. Methods for enumeration of E. coli include the standard MPN technique, a membrane-filter method and the use of media containing chromogenic and fluorogenic indicators for beta-D-glucuronidase (GUD) activity. Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157 strains usually do not ferment sorbitol and are GUD-negative. These characteristics are used in selective media for these organisms, such as cefixime tellurite sorbitol MacConkey agar. For the detection of salmonellae, motility enrichment in Modified Semisolid Rappaport-Vassiliadis (MSRV) medium shows equal or better results than the use of standard Rappaport-Vassiliadis broth. Addition of nitrofurantoin to diagnostic semisolid salmonella agar and to xylose lysine desoxycholate agar favours the isolation of S. enteritidis. Recently developed salmonella media use different selective and diagnostic properties, such as acid formation from propylene glycol, glucuronate fermentation, fermentation of glycerol and addition of Tergitol 4 as selective agent. The isolation of Shigella spp. from foods is rather difficult and further evaluation of suggested isolation systems and the development of more effective methods for the isolation of this pathogen are needed. Yersinia enterocolitica includes both pathogenic and nonpathogenic biotypes and serogroups. As no single procedure will recover all pathogenic strains of Y. enterocolitica, the use of two isolation procedures in parallel is recommended.
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