Research – Global Emergence of Colistin-Resistant Escherichia coli in Food Chains and Associated Food Safety Implications: A Review

Journal of Food Protection


Antimicrobial resistance in bacteria represents one of the most important challenges for public health worldwide. Human infections from antimicrobial-resistant bacteria can be transmitted from person to person, via the environment (especially in the hospital environment), or via handling or eating contaminated foods. Colistin is well known as a last-resort antibiotic for the treatment of human infections; a recent study performed in the People’s Republic of China has revealed that colistin resistance is also conferred by the plasmid-mediated mcr-1 gene in Escherichia coli. After that discovery, further plasmid-mediated, colistin resistance genes have been detected. However, to date, only reports on E. coli carrying the mcr-1 gene (E. coli mcr-1+) in foodstuff are available. E. coli mcr-1+ has been isolated from food of animal origin and vegetables; this discovery has opened a debate among food safety experts. This review aims to provide a critical overview of the currently available scientific literature on the presence of the plasmid-mediated, colistin resistance gene E. coli mcr-1 in foodstuffs, focusing on the main implications and future perspectives for food safety.

  • Antimicrobial resistance in the food chain: a One Health perspective.

  • Escherichia coli carries the mcr-1 gene in food-producing animals.

  • Escherichia coli carrying the mcr-1 gene in food from animals and vegetables is significant.

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