Bacterial communities on food court tables and cleaning equipment in a shopping mall

Epidemiol Infect. 2013 Aug;141(8):1647-51. doi: 10.1017/S0950268812002142. Epub 2012 Sep 21.


The food court at a shopping mall is a potential transfer point for pathogenic microbes, but to date, this environment has not been the subject of detailed molecular microbiological study. We used a combination of culture-based and culture-independent approaches to investigate the types and numbers of bacteria present on food court tables, and on a food court cleaning cloth. Bacteria were found at 10²-10⁵ c.f.u./m² on food court tables and 10¹⁰ c.f.u./m² on the cleaning cloth. Tag-pyrosequencing of amplified 16S rRNA genes revealed that the dominant bacterial types on the cleaning cloth were genera known to include pathogenic species (Stenotrophomonas, Aeromonas), and that these genera were also evident at lower levels on table surfaces, suggesting possible cross-contamination. The evidence suggests a public health threat is posed by bacteria in the food court, and that this may be due to cross-contamination between cleaning equipment and table surfaces.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Bacteria, Aerobic / classification*
  • Bacteria, Aerobic / genetics
  • Bacteria, Aerobic / isolation & purification*
  • Colony Count, Microbial / methods*
  • Commerce
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • New South Wales
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • RNA, Bacterial / metabolism
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / metabolism
  • Seasons
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S