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Int J Food Microbiol. 2001 Feb 28;64(1-2):89-94.

VanA-type vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) remain prevalent in poultry carcasses 3 years after avoparcin was banned.

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Department of Pharmacology, Microbiology and Food Hygiene, The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Oslo.


Avoparcin was used as a growth promoting feed additive in Norwegian broiler and turkey production from 1986 until it was banned in 1995, when an association between vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) and avoparcin use became apparent. A recent study regarding faecal samples documented a continuing high prevalence of VRE among Norwegian poultry 3 years after avoparcin was banned. In the present study, carcasses of broilers and turkeys from farms where avoparcin had previously been in use and carcasses of layer chickens from farms where avoparcin had never been used were examined for the presence of VRE. One carcass from each of 150 different farms was included. By a direct plating method, VRE were isolated from 30 of 100 samples of broilers and turkeys, but not from any samples of layer chickens. When an enrichment step was included, VRE were isolated from a total of 81 of the 100 samples of broilers and turkeys and from nine of the 50 samples of layer chickens. All VRE isolated were highly resistant to vancomycin (MIC > or = 256 microg/ml) and possessed the vanA gene. These results correspond to the prevalence of VRE recently documented in faecal samples from Norwegian poultry. The present study reveals a high prevalence of VRE in broiler and turkey carcasses. Consequently, consumers are exposed to VRE when handling raw poultry meat, although the public health significance of such exposure is unclear.

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