Tracking Antimicrobial Resistant E. coli from Pigs on Farm to Pork at Slaughter
Antimicrobial-resistant bacteria might be transferred via the foodchain. However, that risk is rarely tracked along different production steps, e.g., from pigs at farm to meat. To close that gap, we performed a prospective study in four conventional and two organic farms from the moment pigs entered the farm until meat sampling at slaughter. Antimicrobial use was recorded (0 to 11 agents). Antimicrobial susceptibility (AMS) against 26 antibiotics, including critically important substances, was tested by microdilution, and tetA-tetB-sulI-sulII-strA-strB-bla-CTXM-qacEΔ1 were included in PCR-genotyping. From 244 meat samples of 122 pigs, 54 samples (22.1%) from 45 animals were positive for E. coli (n = 198). MICs above the breakpoint/ECOFF occurred for all antibiotics except meropenem. One isolate from organic farming was markedly resistant against beta-lactams including fourth-generation cefalosporines. AMS patterns differed remarkably between isolates from one piece of meat, varying from monoresistance to 16-fold multiresistance. Amplicon-typing revealed high similarity between isolates at slaughter and on farm. Prior pig lots andeven the farmer might serve as reservoirs for E. coli isolated from meat at slaughter. However, AMS phenotyping and genotyping indicate that antimicrobial resistance in E. coli is highly dynamic, impairing reliable prediction of health risks from findings along the production chain.