Antibiotic Resistance Among Bacteria a Concern

CANADA - A researcher with the University of Manitoba says antibiotic resistance remains a concern in lactic acid bacteria used as starter cultures in meat fermentation, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 3 November 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Researchers with the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences examined 30 lactic acid bacteria used as starter cultures in meat fermentations for resistance to antibiotics used in animal therapy.

The goal was to identify resistance to antibiotics and determine if that resistance could be passed to harmful bacteria.

Food safety and food microbiology professor, Dr Rick Holley, says most of the bacteria tested demonstrated resistance but the transfer of that resistance is unlikely.

Dr Rick Holley-University of Manitoba

There was a significant number of these starter cultures that showed that they had some resistance to some of these antibiotics.

We explored that a little bit further to determine whether or not there was a genetic basis for these resistances.

The idea here of course is if there is a gene or genes that are responsible for these antibiotic resistances resident in the starter culture bacteria, that if there were any pathogenic organisms present, these genes might be transmitted to those pathogens.

With a turn of good luck we found that these antibiotic resistances that we've observed were not related to the presence of genes that could have been responsible for the resistances.

In other words, it's very unlikely that these starter culture bacteria that we tested could serve as reservoirs of antibiotic resistance for the pathogenic bacteria.

Dr Holley says the study should ease concerns over using bacteria in food processing but the issue of antibiotic resistance is not going away.

He says many bacteria have multiple resistance, such as strains of salmonella resistant to five or ten antibiotics, but there is a reluctance to invest the large amounts of money needed to overcome resistance.

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