Microbial contamination and antibiotic resistance in marketed food in Bangladesh: Current situation and possible improvements
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a public health problem worldwide. Bangladesh, like its neighboring countries, faces many public health challenges, including access to safe food, inadequate food surveillance, as well as increasing AMR. This study investigated bacterial contamination and the AMR profile of pathogens in marketed food in Bangladesh and explored barriers to reducing AMR in the country. We collected 366 tomatoes, 359 chicken and 249 fish samples from 732 vendors in traditional markets in urban, peri-urban and rural areas in Bangladesh, as well as from 121 modern retails in Dhaka capital to analyse Vibrio cholerae and Escherichia coli in fish, Salmonella in chicken, and Salmonella and E. coli in tomatoes. Antibiotic susceptibility against 11 antibiotics was tested using a disc diffusion test and interpreted by an automated zone inhibition reader. In addition, a qualitative study using key informant interviews was conducted to explore antimicrobial use and AMR reduction potential in Bangladesh. We found E. coli in 14.21% of tomatoes and 26.91% of fish samples, while 7.38% of tomatoes and 17.27% of chicken were positive for Salmonella, and 44.98% of fish were positive for Vibrio cholerae. In total 231/319 (72.4%) of all pathogens isolated were multidrug-resistant (MDR) (resistant to three or more antibiotic groups). Qualitative interviews revealed an inadequate surveillance system for antibiotic use and AMR in Bangladesh, especially in the agriculture sector. To be able to fully understand the human health risks from bacterial hazards in the food and the AMR situation in Bangladesh, a nationwide study with a one health approach should be conducted, within all sectors, including AMR testing as well as assessment of the antimicrobial use and its drivers.