squid

Raw squid samples tested by Canadian researchers contained a deadly strain of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, marking the first time a food product shows antibiotic resistance.

The findings were released in a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week, alerting consumers to the serious health risk.

Pseudomonas fluorescens is the organism that was found on the squid by the researchers at the University of Saskatchewan. The squid was purchased at a Chinese grocery store in Saskatoon, Canada. While it’s unlikely that contact with the organism would make a healthy person sick, those with compromised immune systems would be at risk of contamination by E. coli, which Pseudomonas fluorescens makes resistant to antibiotics.

According to the Washington Post, “most antibiotic-resistant bacteria have, until now, been in health-care settings and spread by infected patients, as occurred in the “superbug” outbreak at the National Institutes of Health clinical center in 2011 that killed seven people.”

“Finding this organism in food is extremely disturbing,” said Joseph Rubin, assistant professor of veterinary microbiology at the University of Saskatchewan. “This widens the possibilities for the spread of resistance.”

Rubin says that the risk for antibiotic-resistant infection is now much more severe for the general population. “It’s something you may be bringing into your home rather than something you would acquire while traveling or following hospitalization,” he said.

While cooking at appropriate temperatures would kill the bacteria, there is still a risk of cross-contamination through improper hand washing and surface cleaning.

Both the CDC and the World Health Organization have warned about the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. According to the CDC, 23,000 Americans die from antibiotic resistant infections every year.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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 image: mooniker