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Ready-to-eat street-vended food as a potential vehicle of bacterial pathogens and antimicrobial resistance: An exploratory study in Porto region, Portugal

Campos, Joana, Gil, Joana, Mourão, Joana, Peixe, Luísa, Antunes, Patrícia
International journal of food microbiology 2015 v.206 pp. 1-6
Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, antibiotic resistance, antibiotics, clones, coagulase positive staphylococci, coliform bacteria, cross contamination, developed countries, food industry, food safety, hamburgers, hands, microbiological quality, multilocus sequence typing, multiple drug resistance, pathogens, pathotypes, phylogeny, polymerase chain reaction, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, ready-to-eat foods, risk factors, serotypes, street foods, trade, trailers, urban population, virulence, Portugal
The ready-to-eat street vending commerce, as street mobile food vendors, has grown exponentially worldwide, representing in some countries a significant proportion of food consumed by the urban population. However, the microbiological food safety hazards of mobile vending units in industrialized countries are scarcely evaluated. To assess the microbiological quality and safety of this type of food and try to achieve the connection of its contamination with hygienic conditions of food-handlers, we analyzed hotdogs (n=10), hamburgers (n=10) and hands (n=9) from ten street-vending trailers in the Porto region. Food and food-handler samples were tested for Enterobacteriaceae and coliform counts, Escherichia coli and coagulase-positive staphylococci counts/detection and presence of Salmonella. Aerobic mesophilic counts and detection of Listeria monocytogenes (Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis-PFGE and serotyping) were also tested in food samples. E. coli isolates were confirmed by MALDI-TOF and characterized for clonality (phylogenetic groups-PhG, PFGE and Multilocus Sequence Typing), antibiotic resistance (disk diffusion, PCR/sequencing) and intestinal pathogenic virulence factors (PCR/sequencing). All food samples presented poor microbiological quality (100% Enterobacteriaceae and coliforms; 20% E. coli (4 hamburgers, 4 trailers) and 20% (2 hamburgers/2 hotdogs, 3 trailers) were positive for L. monocytogenes (2 PFGE-types belonging to serotype 1/2a and 4b). Salmonella and coagulase-positive staphylococci were not detected. Food-handlers carried Enterobacteriaceae and coliforms (100%), E. coli (11%) and/or coagulase-positive staphylococci (44%). E. coli was detected in 12 samples (n=30-food/food-handlers; phylogenetic groups A0/A1/B1) with 33% resistant to one or more antibiotics. Two multidrug resistant atypical E. coli pathotype strains (astA-ST165(CC165)/food-handler, eaeA-ST327/food) were detected. Three out of eight E. coli clonal lineages [ST409/ST976(CC10)/ST297] and the two L. monocytogenes clones were spread in different samples/trailers, suggesting cross-contamination or a common source of contamination. This exploratory study, in Porto region, showed ready-to-eat street foods from vending trailers as potential vehicles of clinically relevant L. monocytogenes serotypes and/or E. coli carrying clinically relevant virulence/antibiotic resistance features, and food-handlers as a critical risk factor in this expanding food sector.