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Antimicrobial Resistance and Genetic Profiling of Escherichia coli from a Commercial Beef Packing Plant

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The objective of this study was to investigate the extent of antimicrobial resistance and to genetically characterize resistant Escherichia coli recovered from a commercial beef packing plant. E. coli isolates were recovered by a hydrophobic grid membrane filtration method by direct plating on SD-39 medium. A total of 284 isolates comprising 71, 36, 55, 52, and 70 isolates from animal hides, washed carcasses, conveyers, beef trimmings, and ground beef, respectively, were analyzed. The susceptibility of E. coli isolates to 15 antimicrobial agents was evaluated with an automated broth microdilution system, and the genetic characterization of these isolates was performed by the random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) method. Of the 284 E. coli isolates, 56% were sensitive to all 15 antimicrobial agents. Resistance to tetracycline, ampicillin, and streptomycin was observed in 38, 9, and 6% of the isolates, respectively. Resistance to one or more antimicrobial agents was observed in 51% of the E. coli isolates recovered from the hides but in only 25% of the E. coli from the washed carcasses. Resistance to one or more antimicrobial agents was observed in 49, 50, and 37% of the isolates recovered from conveyers, beef trimmings, and ground beef, respectively. The RAPD pattern data showed that the majority of resistant E. coli isolates were genetically diverse. Only a few RAPD types of resistant strains were shared among various sample sources. The results of this study suggest that antimicrobial-resistant E. coli isolates were prevalent during all stages of commercial beef processing and that considerably higher numbers of resistant E. coli were present on conveyers, beef trimmings, and ground beef than on dressed carcasses. This stresses the need for improving hygienic conditions during all stages of commercial beef processing and meatpacking to avoid the risks of transfer of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria to humans.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lacombe Research Centre, 6000 C & E Trail, Lacombe, Alberta, Canada T4L 1W1

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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    First published in 1937, the Journal of Food Protection®, is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection® is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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