European Food Research and Technology

, Volume 237, Issue 2, pp 275–279 | Cite as

Occurence of potentially enterotoxigenic Bacillus cereus in infant milk powder

  • Angela Di PintoEmail author
  • Elisabetta Bonerba
  • Giancarlo Bozzo
  • Edmondo Ceci
  • Valentina Terio
  • Giuseppina Tantillo
Short Communication


Considering that powdered infant milk formula effectively supports the growth of numerous pathogens, this study investigates the prevalence of potentially pathogenic Bacillus cereus in dried milk products by evaluating the occurrence of B. cereus and the presence of virulence-associated genes. The approach consisted of enriching, isolating and biochemical identifying isolates, followed by PCR assays aimed at the hbl (C, D, A, B), nhe (A, B, C) and cytK enterotoxin genes coding HBL complex, NHE complex and cytotoxin K, respectively. Among cytK-positive strains, the discrimination of two different forms for cytotoxin K, cytK-1 and cytK-2 was performed. Bacillus cereus was detected in powdered infant milk formula samples. All the strains harbored at least one gene of the cytK, HBL and NHE enterotoxins. Because of an increasing trend in invasive infections by B. cereus in infants and immunocompromised children, our PCR findings highlight the need to implement an adequate control plan in order to guarantee the health of potentially fragile consumers. From a hygiene point of view, intensive and continuous monitoring of potentially pathogenic B. cereus may be crucial for powdered infant milk formula safety and even recommended in order to assess the infant health risk, as proposed by Commission Regulation (EC) no. 1441/2007 on microbiological criteria for foodstuffs. Furthermore, the detection in this study of B. licheniformis, B. subtilis and B. mycoides strains raises significant health issues regarding Bacillus spp. in powdered infant milk formula.


Occurrence Bacillus cereus Infant milk powder Safety 


Conflict of interest


Compliance with Ethics Requirements

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angela Di Pinto
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elisabetta Bonerba
    • 1
  • Giancarlo Bozzo
    • 1
  • Edmondo Ceci
    • 1
  • Valentina Terio
    • 1
  • Giuseppina Tantillo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of Bari Aldo MoroValenzano, BariItaly

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