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Pathogenic contamination and antibiotic resistance in food

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Contamination of food by pathogenic microbes is of increasing concern as global food demand increases. Recent research in our journals has focused on the varied sources of contamination and pathogenicity to establish how contamination can be controlled.

Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem around the world as more superbugs develop resistance to antimicrobials designed to treat illnesses including those caused by food poisoning. Two articles in International Journal of Microbiology investigate the sources of antibiotic resistance, including a review of the role of bacterial biofilms and research that reveals the presence of MRSA in healthy fish within an aquaculture setting

Further to identifying sources of antibiotic resistance, research also needs to focus on how contamination can be prevented in the first place in order to decrease the need for antibiotics. Another review in International Journal of Microbiology looks at hygiene methods that could minimize outbreaks of preventable diseases caused by common pathogens including E. coli, Listeria spp. and Salmonella spp.. Research in Journal of Toxicology, meanwhile, reveals unexpected levels of fungal toxin contamination in tea, raising the question of how much can be safely consumed, as well as mold toxins in contaminated grains, peanuts and casssava in Uganda

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Microbial Contamination, an Increasing Threat to the Consumption of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in Today’s World 
Rushed to meet the increasing demand for fresh fruit and vegetables, suppliers around the globe may unwittingly be creating opportunities for microbial contamination. Outbreaks of preventable disease have been associated with pathogens such as E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella. Supply-chain surveillance and thorough washing of produce with vinegar water could help keep these healthy foods from making consumers sick. 

The Role of Bacterial Biofilm in Antibiotic Resistance and Food Contamination 
Microbial contamination is a persistent problem in the food and health sectors. A big reason why is the formation of biofilms—barriers formed by cohabitating microbes that can shield against sanitizers and antibiotics. This article explores how biofilms are formed on food and medical surfaces and the ways they can be disrupted, such as by frequent disinfection. Further study of the physical, physiological, and genetic features of biofilms could help improve food safety and human health. 

Mycotoxins Detection and Fungal Contamination in Black and Green Tea by HPLC-Based Method  
Could healthy drinks like green tea contain hidden risks? Researchers tested 60 black and green teas imported to Iran and found that most samples showed fungal contamination. While toxin levels were in the permitted range, concerns remain that regular consumption of contaminated tea could potentially lead to long-term liver and kidney problems.  

Antibiotic Resistance and Virulence Gene Characteristics of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Isolated from Healthy Edible Marine Fish 
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is notorious for causing infections in healthcare settings, but it can also spread through food. MRSA strains isolated from healthy marine fish in South Africa showed varying resistance to 13 antibiotics and were capable of producing toxins involved in food poisoning, highlighting the importance of comprehensive surveillance in controlling MRSA spread. 

Aflatoxins in Uganda: An Encyclopedic Review of the Etiology, Epidemiology, Detection, Quantification, Exposure Assessment, Reduction, and Control 
Carcinogens from toxic molds are going largely undetected in foods in Uganda, including grains, peanuts, and cassava. While improvements in public awareness and government regulations are sorely needed, researchers are exploring promising solutions. These include a portable device for on-site detection and probiotics that can make contaminated cereal-based beverages safe to drink.

(Lay summaries by Research Square)

This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Illustration adapted from Adobe Stock by David Jury.


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