Viable but Nonculturable Bacteria: Food Safety and Public Health Perspective

  • Fakruddin M
  • Mannan K
  • Andrews S
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The viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state is a unique survival strategy of many bacteria in the environment in response to adverse environmental conditions. VBNC bacteria cannot be cultured on routine microbiological media, but they remain viable and retain virulence. The VBNC bacteria can be resuscitated when provided with appropriate conditions. A good number of bacteria including many human pathogens have been reported to enter the VBNC state. Though there have been disputes on the existence of VBNC in the past, extensive molecular studies have resolved most of them, and VBNC has been accepted as a distinct survival state. VBNC pathogenic bacteria are considered a threat to public health and food safety due to their nondetectability through conventional food and water testing methods. A number of disease outbreaks have been reported where VBNC bacteria have been implicated as the causative agent. Further molecular and combinatorial research is needed to tackle the threat posed by VBNC bacteria with regard to public health and food safety.




Fakruddin, Md., Mannan, K. S. B., & Andrews, S. (2013). Viable but Nonculturable Bacteria: Food Safety and Public Health Perspective. ISRN Microbiology, 2013, 1–6.

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