The Thai Journal of Veterinary Medicine


Sesame seeds are used in many traditional Japanese foods for their flavor and taste but commercial sesame can be highly contaminated with bacteria. We therefore examined the bacterial populations, including Bacillus spp., Enterobacteriaceae bacteria and standard plate count bacteria in sesame samples purchased from markets in Japan. A total of 8 sesame samples were tested, of which 4 (50.0%) harbored 4.3–5.6 log cfu/g standard plate count and 2.7–4.3 log cfu/g Enterobacteriaceae bacilli. Pantoea dispersa, P. septica and P. agglomerans were identified by a MALDI-TOF MSbased test. One (12.5%) sample harbored 3.6 log cfu/g Bacillus cereus, but this strain lacked the gene encoding of the enzyme responsible for cereulide synthesis and did not produce enterotoxin. B. cereus was also isolated from a heated sample (98 °C for 20 mins). Metagenome analysis showed that 4 samples were contaminated with bacteria belonging to the 5 genera Pantoea, Serratia, Pseudomonas, Xanthomonas and Rosenbergiella. Pantoea and Pseudomonas DNA was detected in all positive samples but the bacterial load varied. Our study revealed that sesame can become contaminated with Enterobacteriaceae bacteria and B. cereus. Dishes containing contaminated sesame could potentially cause B. cereus food poisoning, although the B. cereus isolates obtained in this study did not contain the gene encoding the enzyme responsible for cereulide synthesis and did not produce enterotoxin. To prevent food poisoning caused by bacterial contamination, it is important to roast sesame seeds at a sufficiently high temperature, do not leave the cooked food with sesame at room temperature for a long time and avoiding cross-contamination from sesame to ready-to-eat food.

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