Poster Title

Evaluation of Drug-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae on Produce from Small Farms in KY.

Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Institution

Kentucky State University

KY House District #

6

KY Senate District #

6

Department

Food & Animal Science, CAFSSS

Abstract

In recent years, the number of bacterial food-borne outbreaks associated with contaminated produce has increased substantially. Escherichia coli contributes to the majority of foodborne illnesses. In addition to the conventional practices, and with more small farmers starting organic production, there is a vulnerable segment which demands continuous microbial safety assessments. In the current study, twenty small produce farms from fourteen counties in Kentucky participated in a survey outlining farmers’ procedures during their routine operations. These farms were visited thrice, during the pre-growing, harvest, and post-harvesting seasons. A total of 119 produce samples was collected from 16 organic and 4 conventional farms, respectively. No Escherichia coli was detected in any of the samples. However, 58% of total samples detected positive for Enterobacteria with Enterobacter cloacae as the most frequently detected (21.62%) member. Microbial analysis was also taken to determine the antimicrobial resistance of the isolates to fourteen antibiotics. Approximately, 88% of the isolates were found resistant to Trimethoprim, 47% were resistant to at least three and 12% were resistant to at least ten of the antibiotics. We conclude that ‘ready-to-eat’ fresh vegetables which are consumed without cooking can be a source of exposure to pathogens with multiple drug resistance (MDR). MDR is defined as resistance to at-least three antimicrobial agents, leading to greater risks in immunocompromised individuals, and may serve as reservoirs for resistance gene transfers in human colon. All findings of the study were shared with participating farmers and they were counseled on the Good Agricultural Practices.

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Evaluation of Drug-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae on Produce from Small Farms in KY.

In recent years, the number of bacterial food-borne outbreaks associated with contaminated produce has increased substantially. Escherichia coli contributes to the majority of foodborne illnesses. In addition to the conventional practices, and with more small farmers starting organic production, there is a vulnerable segment which demands continuous microbial safety assessments. In the current study, twenty small produce farms from fourteen counties in Kentucky participated in a survey outlining farmers’ procedures during their routine operations. These farms were visited thrice, during the pre-growing, harvest, and post-harvesting seasons. A total of 119 produce samples was collected from 16 organic and 4 conventional farms, respectively. No Escherichia coli was detected in any of the samples. However, 58% of total samples detected positive for Enterobacteria with Enterobacter cloacae as the most frequently detected (21.62%) member. Microbial analysis was also taken to determine the antimicrobial resistance of the isolates to fourteen antibiotics. Approximately, 88% of the isolates were found resistant to Trimethoprim, 47% were resistant to at least three and 12% were resistant to at least ten of the antibiotics. We conclude that ‘ready-to-eat’ fresh vegetables which are consumed without cooking can be a source of exposure to pathogens with multiple drug resistance (MDR). MDR is defined as resistance to at-least three antimicrobial agents, leading to greater risks in immunocompromised individuals, and may serve as reservoirs for resistance gene transfers in human colon. All findings of the study were shared with participating farmers and they were counseled on the Good Agricultural Practices.