Detection of Botulinum Toxins A, B, E, and F in Foods by Endopep-MS
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Detection of Botulinum Toxins A, B, E, and F in Foods by Endopep-MS

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  • Alternative Title:
    J Agric Food Chem
  • Description:
    Botulism is caused by exposure to botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs). BoNTs are proteins secreted by some species of clostridia; these neurotoxins are known to interfere with nerve impulse transmission, thus causing paralysis. Botulism may be contracted through consumption of food either naturally or intentionally contaminated with BoNT. The human lethal dose of BoNT is not known but is estimated to be between 0.1 and 70 μg; thus, it is important to be able to detect small amounts of this toxin in foods to ensure food safety and to identify the source of an outbreak. Our laboratory previously reported on the development of Endopep-MS, a mass-spectrometric-based endopeptidase method for the detection and differentiation of BoNT. This method can detect BoNT at levels below the historic standard mouse bioassay in clinical samples such as serum, stool, and culture supernatants. We have now expanded this assay to detect BoNT in over 50 foods including representative products that were involved in actual botulism investigations. The foods tested by the Endopep-MS included those with various acidities, viscosities, and fat levels. Dairy and culturally diverse products were also included. This work demonstrates that the Endopep-MS method can be used to detect BoNT/A, /B, /E, and /F in foods at levels spiked below that of the limit of detection of the mouse bioassay. Furthermore, we successfully applied this method to investigate several foods associated with botulism outbreaks.
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