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Antibiotic residues in sausage meat may promote pathogen survival
Date:8/27/2012

ctic- acid-producing bacteria in a curing process many cultures have employed for hundreds of years. She says fermented sausages occasionally cause serious bacterial infections, but it's never been understood why that might be.

In small-scale experiments in the lab, Ingmer and her colleagues added the antibiotics oxytetracycline or erythromycin to meat inoculated with lactic-acid-producing bacteria and pathogens Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella enterica. They followed the progress of the fermentation and tracked the survival of the pathogens. Ingmer says several different starter cultures of lactic-acid-producing bacteria were sensitive to these antibiotics and hence did not acidify the sausage meat effectively - results that could explain why people sometimes get sick from eating fermented sausage.

Ingmer says the results show antibiotics can potentially have a paradoxical effect that would increase the risk of foodborne illness: antibiotic residues reduce the effectiveness of bacteria that should make the sausages safe but don't affect the bacteria that can cause illness.

Although the results raise an alarm for the manufacture of processed meats, Ingmer stresses that it is important to conduct similar tests in manufacturing facilities. "The majority of sausages are manufactured at a commercial scale. It has to be addressed whether this is a problem in a real life facility," Ingmer says.

Manufacturers with good quality control systems can catch problems in fermentation, Ingmer says, preventing large-scale outbreaks of foodborne illness by testing the final product before it's distributed, but random batch testing could well miss a batch that didn't ferment properly, putting the public at risk.

How can we be sure antibiotic residues don't interfere with the safety of these products? Ingmer sees two possible solutions. If antibiotics are present in meat, boosting the survival and activity of the la
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Contact: Jim Sliwa
jsliwa@asmusa.org
202-942-9297
American Society for Microbiology
Source:Eurekalert

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