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J Hosp Infect. 1993 Jan;23(1):43-9.

A comparative study of the numbers of bacteria present in enteral feeds prepared and administered in hospital and the home.

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Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK.


Levels and types of bacterial contamination were compared in enteral feeds prepared and administered in hospital or in the home. Samples of feed administered to children suffering from cystic fibrosis were collected for microbiological analysis immediately after preparation, immediately prior to use (unless administered after preparation) and at the end of feeding. No bacteria were detected in 51 (70%) of the 73 feeds sampled on the hospital ward, and in most of the remaining feeds viable counts were less than 10(1) colony-forming units (cfu) ml-1. However, only four (18%) of the feeds sampled in the home were free from bacterial growth and the remaining 18 feeds contained from 10(1) to more than 10(6) cfu ml-1. Bacteria isolated from feeds sampled both in hospital and the home, included Staphylococcus spp., Bacillus spp., viridans and faecal streptococci, Klebsiella spp. and Enterobacter spp. Enterobacter cloacae was isolated from 11 of the 73 hospital feeds and four of the 22 home feeds. Staphylococcus aureus was isolated from five of the home feeds but from none of the hospital feeds. The higher incidence and numbers of bacteria found in home enteral feeds indicate that further, more detailed studies need to be carried out to find the sources and routes of this contamination and devise methods to minimize the problem.

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