Diversity in prevalence and characteristics of ESBL/pAmpC producing E. coli in food in Germany
The spread of extended-spectrum β-lactamases (ESBLs) in Escherichia coli is a major public health issue and ESBL-producing bacteria are frequently reported in livestock. For the assessment of the role of the foodborne transmission pathway in Germany, detailed data on the prevalence and characteristics of isolates of food origin are necessary. The objective of this study was to describe the prevalence of cefotaxime resistant E. coli as well as ESBL/pAmpC-producing E. coli and their characteristics in foods in Germany. Out of 2256 food samples, the highest prevalence of cefotaxime resistant E. coli was observed in chicken meat (74.9%), followed by turkey meat (40.1%). Prevalence in beef, pork and minced meat was considerably lower (4.2-15.3%). Whereas 18.0% of the raw milk samples, collected at farm level were positive, this was true only for few cheese samples (1.3%). In one out of 399 vegetable samples a cefotaxime-resistant E. coli was isolated. ESBL resistance genes of the CTX-M-group (10.1% of all samples) were most frequently detected, followed by genes of the pAmpC (2.6%), SHV (2.0%) and TEM (0.8%) families. Distribution of ESBL/AmpC-encoding E. coli resistance genes and E. coli phylogroups was significantly different between the chicken related food samples and all other food items. Our study results reflect that consumers might get exposed to ESBL/pAmpC-producing E. coli through several food chains. These results together with those collected at primary production and in the human population in other studies will allow more detailed analysis of the foodborne pathways, considering transmission from livestock populations to food at retail and to consumers in Germany.