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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 465603, 9 pages
Research Article

Emetic Bacillus cereus Are More Volatile Than Thought: Recent Foodborne Outbreaks and Prevalence Studies in Bavaria (2007–2013)

1Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority, Veterinärstr. 2, 85764 Oberschleißheim, Germany
2Functional Microbiology, IBMH, Department of Pathobiology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinärplatz 1, 1210 Vienna, Austria
3Microbiology Unit, Center for Nutrition and Food Research ZIEL, Technical University of Munich, 85350 Freising, Germany

Received 20 December 2013; Accepted 14 April 2014; Published 8 May 2014

Academic Editor: Moreno Bondi

Copyright © 2014 Ute Messelhäusser et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Several Bacillus cereus strains possess the genetic fittings to produce two different types of toxins, the heat-stable cereulide or different heat-labile proteins with enterotoxigenic potential. Unlike the diarrheal toxins, cereulide is (pre-)formed in food and can cause foodborne intoxications shortly after ingestion of contaminated food. Based on the widely self-limiting character of cereulide intoxications and rarely performed differential diagnostic in routine laboratories, the real incidence is largely unknown. Therefore, during a 7-year period about 4.300 food samples linked to foodborne illness with a preliminary report of vomiting as well as food analysed in the context of monitoring programs were investigated to determine the prevalence of emetic B. cereus in food environments. In addition, a lux-based real-time monitoring system was employed to assess the significance of the detection of emetic strains in different food matrices and to determine the actual risk of cereulide toxin production in different types of food. This comprehensive study showed that emetic strains are much more volatile than previously thought. Our survey highlights the importance and need of novel strategies to move from the currently taxonomic-driven diagnostic to more risk orientated diagnostics to improve food and consumer safety.