A study in Mumbai has detected antibiotic resistant bacteria in commonly consumed food items like raw chicken and sprouted beans.

Scientists have isolated bacteria resistant to antibiotics from food products available in the market. Consumption of such items could make people resistant to drugs and make treatment of infections with antibiotics difficult.

“We have isolated multiple antibiotic-resistant bacteria from chicken and mung sprout samples, which can have serious health concerns”, said Dr Archana Rath, professor at the University of Mumbai and lead author of the study.

Researchers collected fourteen samples of raw chicken from retail shops and thirteen ready-to-eat sprouted mung bean samples from street vendors. Chicken samples were procured within 2-3 hours of slaughter and sprouted mung beans were less than 72 hours post-sprout.

The samples were analysed in the lab, bacteria were isolated from these samples and then these bacteria were tested for sensitivity to various antibiotics. It was found that many food-derived bacteria were resistant to one or more commonly used antibiotics such as penicillin, rifampicin, streptomycin and ciprofloxacin.

Dr Archana Rath in her laboratory. Photo credit: India Science Wire

“Abundance of opportunistic pathogens like Acinetobacter, Enterobacter, Klebsiella in mung, and Acinetobacter, Enterococcus, Serratia, Providencia in chicken could be a serious health issue. Acinetobacter is a clinical pathogen known to carry genes for antimicrobial resistance,” researchers have noted in the study published in journal Current Science.

Most of the bacteria in mung samples were similar to those found in wastewater treatment plants of in contaminated manure. “Sprouted mung is generally consumed raw hence the presence of resistant bacteria in it is a matter of concern,” Rath told India Science Wire.

In chicken, high number of resistant bacteria could be attributed to indiscriminate use of antibiotics in livestock industry. Although chicken is cooked before consumption which kills microbes, it can still spread antibiotic resistant bacteria to raw salads or veggies in the vicinity especially in fast food joints and restaurants, Rath added.

The study team included Onkar Naik, Ravindranath Shashidhar, Devashish Rath, Jayant Bandekar and Archana Rath at the University of Mumbai and Food technology division and Molecular Biology Division of the Bhabha Atomic Research Center.

This article was first published on India Science Wire.