Imported chicken meat as a potential source of quinolone-resistant Escherichia coli producing extended-spectrum  -lactamases in the UK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Roderic Warren
  • VM Ensor
  • P O'Neill
  • V Butler
  • J Taylor
  • K Nye
  • M Harvey
  • DM Livermore
  • N Woodford

Colleges, School and Institutes


OBJECTIVES: Escherichia coli producing CTX-M-15 enzyme began to rapidly spread in the UK from around 2003 but other types also occur, notably CTX-M-14. We examined breasts from UK-reared (n = 62) and imported (n = 27) chickens as potential sources of quinolone-resistant E. coli with bla(CTX-M) genes. A further 40 samples for which the country of rearing could not be identified were examined. METHODS: During 2006, 129 fresh and frozen chicken breast fillets were purchased from retail outlets in the West Midlands. These were cultured for E. coli on CLED agar containing 8 mg/L ciprofloxacin and carrying a 10 microg cefpodoxime disc. Resistant isolates were identified and typed by RAPD fingerprinting; bla(CTX-M) was identified by PCR and genotyped by reverse-line hybridization. RESULTS: The country of rearing was identified from the packaging for 89 of 129 purchased samples. Only one of the 62 UK-reared chicken samples carried E. coli producing a CTX-M-1 enzyme, whereas 10 of 27 samples reared overseas had E. coli with CTX-M enzymes. Specifically, 4/10 Brazilian, 3/4 Brazilian/Polish/French, and 2/2 Dutch samples had E. coli with CTX-M-2 enzymes. Six of 40 samples for which the country of rearing was not known had producers of CTX-M enzymes, 5 of them with CTX-M-14. CONCLUSIONS: Quinolone-resistant E. coli with various CTX-M beta-lactamase genes that are common in human infections worldwide were found in imported chicken breasts, indicating a possible source for gut colonization. Samples from Brazil were commonly positive for E. coli with CTX-M-2, the dominant bla(CTX-M) genotype from human infections in South America, which is currently rare in clinical infections in the UK. CTX-M-15, the dominant CTX-M type in human infections in the UK, was not found in chicken isolates, suggesting that the UK-reared chickens are not a reservoir of CTX-M-15.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-8
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number3
Early online date4 Feb 2008
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2008


  • quinolones, food, ESBLs, Enterobacteriaceae