The aim of this study was to evaluate and characterize the bacterial load present in twenty-four Ready-To-Eat (RTE) sandwiches, purchased at refrigerated vending machines and supermarkets in the province of Modena (Italy). We isolated 54 bacterial strains, including pathogens of interest in food safety, such as Listeria
spp. Phenotypic tests have been performed on these pathogens to detect the presence of virulence factors, such as gelatinase production and hemolytic capability. To test their antibiotic resistance features, the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) against eight commonly used antibiotics (Amikacin, Ciprofloxacin, Ampicillin, Oxacillin, Imipenem, Tetracycline, Erythromycin and Vancomycin) was also evaluated. The results showed that among the 54 isolates, fifty percent (50%) belonged to harmless microorganisms (Leuconostoc
), whereas the remaining fifty percent (50%) included pathogenic bacteria (Listeria ivanovii
, Listeria monocytogenes
, Staphylococcus aureus
, and Citrobacter
spp.), species responsible for pathologies often difficult to treat due to the presence of antibiotic resistance features. This study demonstrates the importance of thorough controls, both during the production and marketing of RTE food like sandwiches, to avoid reaching the infectious load and the onset of pathologies, particularly dangerous for old and immunocompromised patients.
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