Hospital food safety measures reduce risk of contaminated hospital food

A new study found more than 80 percent of raw chicken used in hospitals in food for patients and staff was contaminated with a form of antibiotic resistant bacteria called extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) producing E. coli. While sufficient preparation eliminated the presence of bacteria, poultry meat delivered to hospital kitchens remains a potential point of entry for these dangerous bacteria into the hospital. The study was published in the April issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

"While a high proportion of chicken contaminated by antibiotic resistant E.coli is a significant concern, robust food safety measures taken by hospital kitchen staff are able to prevent the spread of these pathogens and minimize risk to food handlers, staff and patients," said Andrew Stewardson, MD, the lead author of the study.

Researchers from the University Hospital of Geneva in Switzerland collaborated with the Food Control Authority of Geneva to test delivered to the central hospital kitchen that prepares more than 8,000 meals daily. They compared the hospital samples to food in local supermarkets for the presence of ESBLs finding that most (86%) chicken meat samples were positive. E. coli is a normal part of healthy human gut flora but can also cause urinary tract infections and occasionally more serious invasive infections.

The researchers also looked at how food, as a potential source of multi-, impacts the health of food handlers, healthcare workers and patients. They found six of 93 food handlers were ESBL carriers, but overall were no more likely to be colonized by ESBL-producing than the Swiss population.

The authors concluded that industrial risk management strategies in the hospital kitchen appear sufficient to minimize risk to food handlers, hospital staff and patients. However they caution that this conclusion may not apply to household kitchens, where food safety precautions are less rigidly applied.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study spotlights ESBL bacteria in Danish chicken meat

Sep 25, 2012

Over 50 % of the chicken meat that Denmark imports contains extended spectrum beta lactamase (ESBL), enzymes produced by some bacteria that make them resistant to certain antibiotics that are important in ...

Urinary tract infections linked to contaminated chicken

Feb 20, 2012

Urinary tract infections are common conditions that occur when bacteria from the intestines enter the urinary tract. New research, however, suggests that the bacteria causing these infections may come from contaminated food ...

Recommended for you

Ebola aid dogged by coordination lags in Guinea

1 hour ago

Eight months into West Africa's Ebola outbreak, aid efforts in Guinea still suffer from poor coordination, hampering deployments of international support to help quell a virus that has killed more than 1,200 ...

Long wait yet for Ebola vaccine: experts

6 hours ago

It will be months, at least, before a vaccine becomes available to tackle Ebola, experts said Thursday as researchers reported success in early, safety tests with a leading candidate.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.