Prevalence of Multidrug-Resistant Bacteria from U.S.-Grown and Imported Fresh Produce Retailed in Chain Supermarkets and Ethnic Stores of Davidson County, Tennessee.

Research paper by Siqin S Liu, Agnes A Kilonzo-Nthenge

Indexed on: 17 Feb '17Published on: 17 Feb '17Published in: Journal of food protection


The aim of this study was to determine whether U.S.-grown and imported fresh produce retailed in ethnic stores and chain supermarkets was a reservoir of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. A total of 360 (129 imported and 231 U.S.-grown) samples of fresh produce were purchased from retail stores and analyzed for Enterobacteriaceae , including three pathogenic bacteria ( Escherichia coli O157:H7, Shigella , and Salmonella ), using standard methods. Presumptive pathogenic isolates were confirmed using PCR. The mean Enterobacteriaceae counts for imported produce were 6.87 ± 0.15 log CFU/g and 7.16 ± 0.11 log CFU/g in ethnic stores and chain supermarkets, respectively. For U.S.-grown produce, the contamination levels were at 8.35 ± 0.17 log CFU/g and 7.52 ± 0.13 log CFU/g in ethnic stores and chain supermarkets, respectively. Salmonella (0 and 0.3%), Shigella (1.7 and 0.6%), E. coli (3.1 and 1.4%), Enterobacter (9.4 and 8.6%), Klebsiella (6.7 and 0.6%), and Serratia (5.8 and 1.4%) were detected in produce from ethnic stores and chain supermarkets, respectively. None of the samples were positive for E. coli O157:H7. Regarding distribution by produce type, leafy vegetables had a significantly (P < 0.05) higher prevalence of Enterobacteriaceae (19.2%) than the other types, followed by root vegetables (6.4%), tomatoes (5.6%), and fruits (3.9%). Antibiotic-resistant Salmonella , Shigella , E. coli , Enterobacter , Klebsiella , and Erwinia bacteria were also isolated from fresh produce. The frequencies of vancomycin resistance (98.1 and 100%) were significantly higher (P < 0.05) than the frequencies of ampicillin resistance (42.3 and 72.9%) for imported and U.S.-grown produce, respectively. Despite the increased attention to the role of imported produce as a source of antimicrobial resistance, this study indicates that U.S.-grown produce is also contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Good agricultural practices on the farms and washing of fresh produce before consumption are greatly recommended to avoid possible public health hazards.