A team of Swiss researchers has carried out a risk assessment of antibiotic-resistant extended-spectrum ß-lactamase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBL-PE) in raw and prepared foods in a hospital kitchen to determine the threat to patients from contaminated food.
The team, from the University Hospital of Geneva and the Food Control Authority of Geneva, tested samples of raw and prepared foods from the hospital kitchen and comparator samples taken from local supermarkets. They found that 92% of the raw chicken samples were contaminated with ESBL-PE, including 86% of the hospital samples and all of the retail samples. Six out of 93 food handlers at the hospital were also found to be carriers of the bacteria. However, none of the cooked chicken samples were contaminated and the study found clear differences between the ESBL-PE strains isolated from the chicken and human isolates at the hospital.
The researchers conclude that, although raw chicken meat delivered to the hospital is a significant source of ESBL-PE contamination, the risk to patients and staff is minimised by the preventive measures now in place. On the other hand, they warn that the risk may be much higher in domestic and other kitchens where food safety standards are lower.
The study is published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology and the full text can be found here.