Identification of Sarcocystis spp. by polymerase chain reaction and microscopic examination in various beef products (minced meat, meatballs, fermented sausage)


Abstract: Sarcocystis species are the most commonly encountered parasitic organisms in animals. Sarcocystis hominis (Sarcocystis bovihominis), the species found in beef cattle, is not visible macroscopically in muscle tissue. In recent years it has been established that, in addition to being a zoonotic parasite transmitted via the consumption of beef, the parasite produces toxins and causes food poisoning. Therefore, this study was undertaken in order to determine the extent to which Sarcocystis species are present in minced meat, meatballs, and fermented sausages produced from beef and marketed in Kars. A total of 150 samples, 50 of each product, were collected in the city center from butcher's shops, from businesses that produce such items, and from general stores. In order to detect sarcocysts in the samples, the cysts revealed by an enzymatic digestion test were examined microscopically. Genomic DNA extracted from the samples was stored at -20 °C for analysis by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The microscopic analysis revealed that the parasite was present in 2 samples of minced meat (4%) and 1 sample of meatballs (2%). Analysis by PCR revealed that the parasite was present in 14 samples of minced meat (28%), 34 samples of meatballs (68%), and 1 sample of sausage (2%). These results indicate that the use of PCR in the routine analysis of meat preparations for the presence of Sarcocystis species should be increased, since the application of this technique would provide analysts with more conclusive results than examination by microscope.

Keywords: Sarcocystis spp., microscopic examination, beef products, PCR

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