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Food Safety Focus (115th Issue, February 2016) – Food Incident Highlight

Glowing Bacteria in Meat

Meat contaminated by photobacteria, such as Pseudomonas fluorescens , may glow in the dark. This phenomenon has been reported by the media when some consumers found greenish blue fluorescence on the surface of raw pork.

According to literature, P. fluorescens inhabit plants, soils, water surfaces and many other environments. They grow best in 25-30°C and sustain at 4°C. The photobacteria produce a soluble, greenish fluorescent pigment, particularly under conditions of low iron availability.

P. fluorescens pose no health threat to the public in general. Their presence in meat is not injurious per se to the consumer, although this may be an indication of unsanitary conditions requiring trader's attention, such as carrying out carcass cleaning and meat handling procedures. Cooking can destroy these bacteria. When preparing food, consumers are advised to maintain good personal/ food hygiene and avoid food contamination after cooking. Discard meat if it has spoilage signs such as odd odour or texture.