Ready-to-eat food products procured from different roadside shops in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu were screened for Escherichia coli. A total of 500 samples from 250 vegetable and 250 meat products were collected from different hotels, restaurants and street food vendors in Tiruchirappalli, Tamilnadu. Out of 500 ready-to-eat food samples, 162 (32.4%) E. coli strains were isolated. The ready-to-eat meat products had higher bacterial count than the vegetable food samples collected due to unhygienic handling, improper storage, inadequate temperature to maintain processed meat and improper cooking. Biochemically identified E. coli colonies were screened for housekeeping gene uidA and 139 (85.8%) E. coli isolates were confirmed to possess β-glucuronidase activity. In addition, antibiotic susceptibility assay was performed using 12 antibiotics. From 139 E. coli strains, 96 (69.1%) isolates showed multidrug resistance. Among them, 16.7% showed 100% resistance to all the antibiotics tested. Whereas, multidrug resistant E. coli isolates showed increased resistance (75.9%) to streptomycin followed by 70-50% level of resistance to ceftriaxone, ampicillin, cefixime, ciprofloxacin, tetracycline, gentamicin, doxycycline, co-trimoxazole, norfloxacin, ofloxacin and chloramphenicol. Furthermore, drug resistant E. coli isolates 56 (58.3%) were detected with the presence of intI1. The source of contamination was found to be water and human handling. Drinking water supply from corporation might have been contaminated with fecal waste source is being discharged into Cauvery river which might disseminate horizontal gene transfer.
Ready-to-eat, E. coli, uidA gene, Multidrug resistance, Class 1 integron, Public health
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