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Prevalence and Molecular Characterization of Aeromonas spp. in Ready-to-Eat Foods in Italy

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A survey was carried out in Italy to ascertain the prevalence of Aeromonas spp. in ready-to-eat foods (vegetables, cheeses, meat products, and ice creams) and the level of molecular heterogeneity of the isolates found by macrorestriction analysis of genomic DNA with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). In total, 46 (14.4%) of the 320 food samples examined were found positive for Aeromonas spp. The highest percentages of isolation were discovered in vegetables, particularly lettuce (45.0%), endive (40.0%), and rucola (20.0%). Ricotta was the only cheese type analyzed that showed a high frequency of isolation (45.0%). Among meat products, salami and raw ham (25.0% of samples positive) and, to a lesser extent, baloney (5.0%) were found positive for Aeromonas spp. Aeromonas hydrophila was the most common isolate from foods of animal origin, whereas Aeromonas caviae was the dominant species in vegetables. No motile aeromonads were found in ice cream samples. Aeromonas isolates showed a high level of genetic heterogeneity, because 24 PFGE patterns were identified among 27 A. hydrophila strains and 20 PFGE patterns were found in 23 A. caviae isolates. In conclusion, consumers of ready-to-eat foods in Italy are regularly exposed to many genetically distinct strains of A. hydrophila and A. caviae without evident signs of malaise, and therefore, few of these strains, if any, are likely to be pathogenic.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Health and Preventive Sciences, University Federico II, Via S. Pansini 5, 80131 Naples, Italy

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