Identification of antimicrobial resistant bacteria from plant-based food products imported into Canada
Jung, D.; Rubin, J.E.
International Journal of Food Microbiology 319: 108509
The role of plant-based foods in the epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance has been inadequately studied. In this investigation, resistant organisms from vegetables, fruits and spices imported into Canada were identified and characterized. A total of 143 products imported from primarily Asian and African countries were purchased from international markets in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Samples were selectively cultured for bacterial species where resistance is known to be emerging. The proportions of samples positive for each organism were as follows: E. coli (n = 13, 9.1%), Salmonella spp. (n = 2, 1.4%), ESBL producing Enterobacter spp. (n = 2, 1.4%) and K. pneumoniae (n = 2, 1.4%), S. aureus (n = 7, 4.9%) and Enterococcus spp. (n = 66, 46.2%). Antimicrobial minimum inhibitory concentrations were determined by broth micro-dilution and agar-dilution. Based on the susceptibility of each organism, isolates were screened for resistance genes (β-lactamases and plasmid mediated quinolones resistance determinants) by PCR. Extended-spectrum β-lactamase producing Enterobacteriaceae and methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA) were identified from 6/143 (4.2%) and 2/143 (1.4%) of samples respectively. The qnrB, qnrS and aac(6')-Ib-cr plasmid mediated quinolone resistance determinants were identified in 2/143 (1.4%) of samples tested. None of the Enterobacteriaceae isolates were resistant to meropenem or colistin. Similarly, all Enterococcus isolates remained susceptible to ampicillin, penicillin and vancomycin. Finding multi-drug resistant bacteria which are frequently isolated from human infections is concerning, although the contribution of the global food trade to the dissemination of resistance remains cryptic. These results suggest that imported plant-based foods may be an underappreciated source of clinically relevant resistant organisms. Further study is required to address these gaps in our understanding of the epidemiology of resistance, and the magnitude of the risk posed to human health by these organisms.