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SALT LAKE CITY - Ready-to-eat shrimp may contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria, so people with weak immune systems should stay away from such prepared food, a researcher said Wednesday at the American Society for Microbiology's annual meeting, Reuters reports.
Gianna Duran of Mississippi State University and her colleagues bought 13 packets of prepared shrimp--some packaged with cocktail sauce--at local grocery stores. Then they used lab techniques designed to encourage bacterial growth to identify which types of bacteria the shrimp contained.
Forty-two percent of the bacterial samples they found in the shrimp were resistant to antibiotics. Most bugs belonged to the Bacillus, Escherichia, Micrococcus and Pseudomonas families. Resistance to the drug clindamycin was most common, seen in 17 percent of the resistant bacteria samples, while resistance to ceftriaxone was the most widespread across different types of bacterial species.
Duran said she and her team had expected most of the contamination they saw would come from the water in which the shrimp were grown, and that resistance would most commonly occur with antibiotics used in shrimp aquaculture. But they also saw a number of bacteria--such as Staphylococcus epidermis--that are not found in the water. She and her colleagues believe much of the contamination probably occurred during packaging.
Shrimp that is cooked before eating is certainly safe, Duran told Reuters Health. And the prepared shrimp, when handled properly, should also be safe to eat for healthy people. But she stressed that people with weak immune systems should always cook food products like prepared shrimp before eating them to destroy any residual bacteria.