European legislation stipulates that food no longer intended for human consumption, due to commercial reasons, manufacturing problems, or some defect, can be used in pet feed. However, the presence of former foodstuffs in pet diets could constitute a public health issue because pets can act as reservoirs of antimicrobial resistance genes. In this study, for the first time, biological hazards due to the presence of Escherichia coli and Salmonella in former foodstuff meat products were evaluated. Among the 112 samples of packaged fresh meat (poultry, pork, and beef) collected from cold storage warehouses of a mass market retailer, the overall prevalence of E. coli and Salmonella, the prevalence of strains with multidrug resistance, the phenotypic and genotypic characteristics of strains that produce extended-spectrum β-lactamase, and the presence of biofilm producers were assessed. A high prevalence of E. coli was observed in former foodstuffs of poultry (100%), pork (100%), and beef (93.3%). Salmonella Derby and Salmonella Typhimurium were found in 11.5% of the poultry samples, and Salmonella Typhimurium was found in 13.3% of the pork samples. Salmonella was not recovered from the beef samples. Multidrug resistance was found in E. coli and Salmonella isolates from poultry, pork, and beef. Overall, 18.2% of E. coli isolates and 20% of Salmonella isolates were resistant to various types of antibiotics with various mechanisms of action. Salmonella isolates from pork are an important source of extended-spectrum β-lactamase production. Both E. coli and Salmonella were carriers of antibiotic resistance marker genes (blaTEM, blaSHV, and blaCTX-M) associated with β-lactamase production in poultry and pork. Approximately 30% of the E. coli isolates from the various types of meat were phenotypically biofilm producers, and all carried the fimH gene. These findings indicate that the use of former foodstuff meat products in pet diets can represent a risk for public health.
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