New Quantitative, Qualitative, and Confirmatory Media for Rapid Analysis of Food for Clostridium perfringens1


A selective and differential medium, Shahidi-Ferguson Perfringens agar (SFP agar), and a confirmatory medium, lactose-motility agar (LM agar), were developed for the enumeration and identification of Clostridium perfringens in foods. These media provide a rapid, specific, and direct diagnosis of C. perfringens. SFP agar contains sodium metabisulfite and ferric ammonium citrate to demonstrate H2S production and egg yolk to demonstrate lecithinase production by C. perfringens. On SFP agar, C. perfringens produces black colonies, 2 to 3 mm in diameter, surrounded by zones of opaque precipitate. The typical colonies are confirmed on LM agar. Enumeration and identification are completed within 48 hr. All of the ingredients of SFP agar are stable to heat and storage conditions. SFP agar also contains two antibiotics, kanamycin and polymyxin B, which are inhibitory to many bacteria commonly occurring in foods. A comparative study of SFP agar and noninhibitory media showed that SFP agar did not inhibit any of the 16 strains of C. perfringens tested. Recovery of C. perfringens added to foods averaged 90.6% for SFP agar as compared with 69.8% for sulfite polymyxin-sulfadiazine (SPS) agar (BBL) and 60.2% for SPS agar (Difco). The colonies on the SFP agar, were much larger and were consistently black. Of 464 food samples tested, C. perfringens was found in 27 samples with SFP agar and in 5 samples with SPS agar (Difco), with a recovery ratio considerably higher on SFP agar. SFP agar is a more specific presumptive medium for the enumeration of C. perfringens and in conjunction with LM agar should save considerable time, effort, and materials toward the final identification of the species.

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