Enterobacteriaceae comprise a large number of Gram-negative, rod-shaped bacteria, typically found in the intestines of virtually all animals.
A number of common pathogens belong to this family, such as Salmonella, E. coli O157, Shigella, Yersinia and Cronobacter. This group of bacteria also includes environmental species, which often appear in the food manufacturing environment. Enterobacteriaceae can be used for routine screening as their presence indicates possible contamination with pathogens. If they are found to be present, testing for specific pathogens can be initiated.
According to EU Commission Regulation (EC) 2073/2005, Salmonella and Enterobacter sakazakii must be absent in infant formulas, formulas for special medical purposes and follow-on formulas. The presence of these pathogens constitutes a considerable risk when conditions allow growth of the bacteria.
Enterobacter sakazakii (Cronobacter spp.) Infection
Enterobacter sakazakii (Cronobacter spp.) is a pathogenic bacterium within the Enterobacteriaceae family which has been re-classified as 6 species within the genus Cronobacter. Although the majority of infection cases are reported in adults, these are rarely of a serious nature. However, in infants (less than 2 months old), it can cause bacteremia, meningitis and necrotizing enterocolitis, primarily in low birth weight neonates who are immunocompromised. E. sakazakii infection has been associated with the use of powdered infant formula, with some strains capable of surviving in a desiccated state for more than 2 years.