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Antibiotic-resistant germs: Always wash the raw food and salad thoroughly
Healthy salads are an important part of a balanced diet. However, they should always be washed well before consumption and ideally freshly prepared. Care should be taken with pre-cut products from the supermarket. Because there are sometimes pathogens or even antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Raw food is the trend. Due to the uncooked preparation method, foods such as salads or sprouts are left in their natural state and thus heat-sensitive vitamins, minerals, proteins and enzymes are not destroyed. However, health-threatening germs can also be found in such products, experts warn.
Germs are not deactivated
As the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) reports in a recent statement, salads, fresh herbs or sprouts pre-cut and wrapped in foil can contain health-threatening germs.
According to the experts, despite precautionary measures from cultivation to sales, pathogens or antibiotic-resistant bacteria are detected in small numbers on fresh products.
Although this is less common than, for example, meat, the raw consumption of lettuce and fresh herbs does not inactivate the existing bacteria by roasting or cooking.
Focus on diarrhea
The BfR has evaluated the latest results from research and food surveillance on the transfer of resistance to antibiotics when eating fresh vegetable products.
The evaluation refers to a study by the Julius-Kühn Institute (JKI), which was published a few months ago in a joint press release by JKI and BfR.
The focus was on Escherichia coli bacteria (E. coli), mostly harmless intestinal germs, which are widespread and were found in some raw food salads, arugula and fresh coriander from the retail trade.
This coli bacterium has numerous disease-causing strains and is a common cause of diseases associated with diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting.
Infants, toddlers, the elderly and people with a weakened immune system in particular can develop more severe illnesses with bloody diarrhea.
According to health experts, five to ten percent of those affected, especially children of preschool age, develop a severe clinical picture after bowel problems (about a week after the onset of diarrhea).
Resistance properties can be passed on
The JKI's studies have shown that the E. coli bacteria are partially insensitive to several antibiotics such as tetracycline, penicillins and cephalosporins.
Once ingested with raw lettuce, such harmless bacteria can pass on their resistance properties in the human intestine to potentially causing disease-causing bacteria.
According to the experts, it cannot be estimated to what extent a person ingests permanently resistant E. coli through raw consumption.
However, it can be assumed that antibiotic treatment at the time the bacteria ingested the salad could favor this.
Ingested resistant bacteria could also be the reason if antibiotic therapy fails in a subsequent infectious disease.
Certain people should refrain from consuming it
The BfR recommends that consumers always wash their raw food, leafy salads and fresh herbs thoroughly with drinking water before eating to minimize the risk of pathogens or antibiotic-resistant bacteria ingested.
As the experts explain, some germs can continue to multiply in the moist and nutrient-rich environment of ready-to-eat mixed salad packs, despite cooling, so that there is a slightly increased but still low risk of disease in particularly sensitive groups of people.
"For this reason, pregnant women and people whose immune system is weakened by old age, previous illnesses or taking medication should avoid eating pre-cut and packaged salads as a protection against food-borne infections, and instead prepare salads from fresh and thoroughly washed ingredients shortly before consumption" , writes the BfR.
And: "Washing can not safely remove the pathogens or antibiotic-resistant bacteria that may be present on the plant foods."
In rare individual cases, it is therefore necessary that especially immunocompromised people heat their vegetables and fresh herbs sufficiently (at least two minutes at 70 ° C inside the food) in accordance with the instructions of their treating physicians. (ad)