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      Taxonomy, ecology and antibiotic resistance of enterococci from food and the gastro-intestinal tract.

      International Journal of Food Microbiology
      Anti-Bacterial Agents, pharmacology, Consumer Product Safety, Digestive System, microbiology, Drug Resistance, Bacterial, Enterococcus, classification, drug effects, Food Microbiology, Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections, drug therapy, Humans, Microbial Sensitivity Tests, Phylogeny, Probiotics

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          Apart from genotypic identification methods, there is a need for reliable conventional phenotypic identification schemes for simple and rapid determination of enterococcal species in food or in the gastro-intestinal tract (GIT). Only a limited number of enterococcal species is of importance for the ecology of the GIT or the food microflora, including E. faecalis, E. faecium, E. durans/hirae, E. gallinarum and E. casseliflavus. After genus identification the differentiation within these species can include, e.g. mannitol and arabinose fermentation and growth at 50 degrees C. Widely used commercial identification systems may fail to precisely identify rare species. Ecological aspects should also be taken into account. In the human GIT E. faecium is the most common species whereas in most animal species E. faecalis is at least present in the same amount. Especially in foods of animal origin (cheese, pork meat, beef, poultry meat) also E. faecalis is very frequent. This is of special interest as glycopeptide resistance is most often found in human clinical E. faecium strains as well as in E. faecium from the environment or animal samples and less frequent in E. faecalis strains. EU experts propose as safety criteria for probiotics in feed additives the exclusion of resistances or the lack of transferability. This proposal can also be applied to enterococci in foods. Specific resistances must be excluded, but transferability or acquisition of resistance (e.g. vancomycin) cannot be excluded per se. However, technologically used strains should differ from clinical strains concerning their resistance patterns and transfer rates.

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