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Original Research - Circumpolar Special Issue: Human health at the ends of the earth

Prevalence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella in traditional meats derived from game animals in Nunavik

Submitted: 9 October 2009
Revised: 20 March 2010
Published: 18 June 2010

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Author(s) : Gauthier M, Simard M, Blais BW.

Martine GauthierManon SimardBurton Blais

Citation: Gauthier M, Simard M, Blais BW.  Prevalence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella in traditional meats derived from game animals in Nunavik. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2010; 10: 1329. Available: (Accessed 22 October 2017)


Introduction:  The objectives of this project were two-fold, to: (1)  implement rapid, simple, and inexpensive test methods enabling the detection of the foodborne pathogens Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella in foods and related samples, for the purpose of establishing basic on-site food microbiology testing capability at the Nunavik Research Centre (NRC) in Kuujjuaq, with the provision of hands-on training in the operation of methods; and (2) use this new capability to conduct a survey of the eastern Canadian Arctic in order to ascertain the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella in traditional meats derived from arctic food animals.
Methods:  To verify the effectiveness of training provided to NRC staff, proficiency test samples consisting of ground beef inoculated with salmonellae and E. coli O157:H7 were prepared by the Proficiency Testing Unit of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and shipped to the NRC for analysis. The NRC laboratory demonstrated 100% accuracy in the identification of the target pathogens in all samples, demonstrating the successful implementation of on-site test capability. For the prevalence study, a total of 129 samples from arctic mammals, fowl, fish and environmental swabs from community freezers were analyzed at both the NRC and CFIA laboratories.
Results:  No E. coli O157- or Salmonella-positives were identified for any of the samples examined.
Conclusion: These results represent a first step towards the creation for future reference of a database on the prevalence of the pathogens E. coli O157 and Salmonella.

Key words:  animals, Arctic, Escherichia coli  O157:H7, food, pathogens, prevalence, Salmonella.

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