Academic article

Disinfectant and antibiotic resistance of lactic acid bacteria isolated from the food industry

Sidhu, Maan Singh; Langsrud, Solveig; Holck, Askild Lorentz

Publication details

Journal: Microbial Drug Resistance, vol. 7, p. 73–83, 2001

Issue: 1

International Standard Numbers:
Printed: 1076-6294
Electronic: 1931-8448

Open Access: none


Quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) are widely used as disinfectant in medical and food environments. There is a growing concern about the increasing incidence of disinfectant-resistant microorganisms from food. Disinfectant-resistant lactic acid bacteria (LAB) may survive disinfection and cause spoilage problems. Moreover, resistant LAB may potentially act as a reservoir for resistance genes. A total number of 320 LAB from food industry and meat were screened for resistance to the QAC benzalkonium chloride (BC). Out of 320 strains, five strains (1.5%) were considered to be resistant and 56 (17.5%) were tolerant to BC, The resistant strains were isolated from food processing equipment after disinfection. The resistant, tolerant, and some sensitive control bacteria were examined for susceptibility to 18 different antibiotics, disinfectants, and dyes using disc agar diffusion test and microdilution method. Little systematic cross-resistance between BC and any of the antimicrobial agents tested were detected except for gentamycin and chlorhexidine, A BC-tolerant strain was much easier to adapt to higher levels of BC as compared to a BC-sensitive strain. No known Gram-positive QAC resistance genes (qacA/B, qacC, qacG, and qacH) were detected in the BC-resistant strains. Identification to species level of the BC-resistant isolates was carried out by comparative analysis of 16S-rDNA sequencing. In conclusion, resistance to BC is not frequent in LAB isolated from food and food environments. Resistance may occur after exposure to BC, The BC resistant isolates showed no cross-resistance with other antimicrobial compounds, except for gentamycin and chlorhexidine, Nevertheless, BC-resistant LAB may be isolated after disinfection and may contribute to the dissemination of resistance.