Assessment of the Prevalence of Extended-Spectrum β-Lactamase-Producing Enterobacteriaceae in Ready-to-Eat Salads, Fresh-Cut Fruit, and Sprouts from the Swiss Market

J Food Prot. 2015 Jun;78(6):1178-81. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-15-018.


Ready-to-eat (RTE) prepacked salads and fruit have been successfully marketed for the last decade in Switzerland and are increasingly important as a component of everyday diets. To determine whether extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae are present in RTE salads, fresh-cut fruit, and sprouts on the Swiss market, samples of 238 mixed and unmixed RTE produce from a large production plant and 23 sprout samples from two sprout farms were analyzed. Further, four samples from the production plant's recycled wash water, which is used for crop irrigation, were analyzed. Twelve (5%) of the 238 RTE products and one of the recycled wash water samples yielded ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae. Strain identification and PCR analysis of the blaESBL genes revealed Kluyvera ascorbata isolated from a tomato sample harboring a blaCTX-M-2-like gene; multidrug-resistant (MDR) Enterobacter cloacae detected in a chives sample imported from Spain harboring the clinically important bla(CTX-M-15) gene; and 10 Serratia spp. isolated from mixed salads (bla(FONA-2) and bla(FONA-2)-like genes were found in 6 [60%] and bla(FONA-4)-like and bla(FONA-5)-like genes were each found in 2 [20%] of the isolates). The recycled wash water sample tested positive for one extraintestinal pathogenic MDR Escherichia coli B2:ST131 harboring bla(CTX-M-27) and for one MDR E. coli A:ST88 containing bla(CTX-M-3). None of the sprout samples tested positive for ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae. Overall, the majority of the Enterobacteriaceae detected in Swiss RTE produce were environmental strains producing minor ESBLs. The detection of an isolate producing a clinically important ESBL in a single sample and of an international circulating pathogenic strain (B2:ST131) in recycled wash water highlights the importance of surveillance of fresh produce and of recycled wash water that will be reused for irrigation purposes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Enterobacteriaceae / isolation & purification*
  • Enterobacteriaceae Infections / prevention & control
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification
  • Fast Foods / microbiology
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Food Contamination / prevention & control*
  • Food Microbiology / methods*
  • Fruit / microbiology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prevalence
  • Serratia / isolation & purification
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • beta-Lactamases / biosynthesis*


  • beta-Lactamases