Antibiotic-resistant bacteria: prevalence in food and inactivation by food-compatible compounds and plant extracts

J Agric Food Chem. 2015 Apr 22;63(15):3805-22. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.5b00778. Epub 2015 Apr 9.


Foodborne antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria such as Campylobacter jejuni, Bacillus cereus, Clostridium perfringens, Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica, Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio cholerae, and Vibrio parahemolyticus can adversely affect animal and human health, but a better understanding of the factors involved in their pathogenesis is needed. To help meet this need, this overview surveys and interprets much of our current knowledge of antibiotic (multidrug)-resistant bacteria in the food chain and the implications for microbial food safety and animal and human health. Topics covered include the origin and prevalence of resistant bacteria in the food chain (dairy, meat, poultry, seafood, and herbal products, produce, and eggs), their inactivation by different classes of compounds and plant extracts and by the use of chlorine and physicochemical methods (heat, UV light, pulsed electric fields, and high pressure), the synergistic antimicrobial effects of combinations of natural antimicrobials with medicinal antibiotics, and mechanisms of antimicrobial activities and resistant effects. Possible areas for future research are suggested. Plant-derived and other safe natural antimicrobial compounds have the potential to control the prevalence of both susceptible and resistant pathogens in various environments. The collated information and suggested research will hopefully contribute to a better understanding of approaches that could be used to minimize the presence of resistant pathogens in animal feed and human food, thus reducing adverse effects, improving microbial food safety, and helping to prevent or treat animal and human infections.

Keywords: animal feed; antibiotic-resistant bacteria; antimicrobial mechanisms; bacterial SOS response; human food; inactivation; infectious disease; microbial food safety; multidrug-resistant bacteria; organic food; prevalence in food; quorum sensing; research needs; resistant mechanisms; susceptible bacteria.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / growth & development
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Food Safety
  • Humans
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Plant Extracts