The lack of hygiene in the instruments used for cooking, such as knives, can lead to the consumption of bacteria that are harmful to health.

Knives used to cut raw food must be washed.

Something as simple as not washing a knife well can cause bacteria from a steak end up on the loaf of bread that we are going to consume without cooking.

In general, the lack of hygiene in the handling of raw food, meat, fish, fruits and vegetables can lead to consumption of microorganisms harmful to our health for its resistance to antibiotics.

It happens because, like most living beings, bacteria have mechanisms that allow them to adapt to different environmental situations.

Faced with the indiscriminate use of antibiotics, both in animals and humans, many bacteria develop strategies that allow them to avoid these medications. And since, in addition, they have the ability to By sharing their genetic information, they end up spreading that resistance to other microorganisms.

If we add to this cocktail that the current mobility of the population is responsible for spread resistant strains across the globe, the problem reaches global dimensions. With the obstacles that this could put him in the treatment of many infectious diseases.

Antibiotics and biocides

The use of antibiotics (in primary production) and biocides (disinfectants, decontaminants or food preservatives) is the main driver of selection and spread of antimicrobial resistance throughout the entire food chain.

Most of the species are sensitive to the antibiotics that we handle. But that does not prevent that, for different reasons, they occasionally isolate themselves.riants capable of growing to their wides in the presence of these drugs. In this case we speak of acquired resistance.

The serious thing about the matter is that, when those that become resistant to one or more antibiotics are bacteria that cause infections, the treatment capacity decreases. What it supposes a serious threat to our health.

The difficulty

Both the transmission of multidrug-resistant strains through food and the exposure to possible resistance-carrying strains in the environment. where raw materials are made or food is processed they are matters of public health concern. And they are part of much of the current research.

This research is essential to identify which animals and food products are the main sources of infections, in addition to monitoring the prevalence of zoonoses.

Without going further, in the fish food industry bacteria resistant to multiple antimicrobials have been identified. Regarding meat or egg-derived products, the studies focus on the transmission of resistant strains of bacteria such as Escherichia coli The Salmonella.

Vegetables, fruits and legumes are not saved either. In your case, the interest is in identify resistant Enterobacteriaceae that may come from contamination of fecal origin.

In the end, what we must not lose sight of is that there are several ways by which these bacteria end up reaching us. Namely: by contact between animals and humans; through water contaminated with resistant fecal bacteria that can contaminate vegetables, fruits or shellfish; by the consumption of foods of animal origin that contain resistant bacteria; or through cross contamination. Resistant bacteria can be spread in livestock farms, slaughterhouses, food processing industries, and even in our home.

What can we do?

The food chain is made up of a series of links and we, as consumers, are the bottom rung. That is why, when handling food, it is important to prevent infections by frequently washing our hands, preparing food in hygienic conditions and avoiding food contact with sick people.

But what are these hygienic conditions? WHO offers five keys to food safety: keep the work area clean; separate raw and cooked foods; cook thoroughly; keep food – raw and cooked – at safe temperatures; and use safe water and raw materials for cooking.

In addition, it is advisable to choose foods for whose production has not used antibiotics in order to stimulate growth or prevent disease in healthy animals. And in case of disinfecting the areas where we handle food, rotate the disinfectant products.

This set of measures could help prevent the spread of resistant bacteria or tolerant throughout the food chain. We must not lose sight of the fact that it is calculated that In 2050 there will be more deaths from antibiotic-resistant bacteria than from cancer, and many of these bacteria come from food. Avoiding it is in our hands.

* This article was originally published on The Conversation.

**Mª Rosario Lucas López is Professor of the Microbiology Area at the University of Jaén and is the author of the article together with Antonio Gálvez del Postigo, Professor at the University of Jaén, María José Grande Burgos, Research Assistant at the University of Jaén and Rubén Pérez Pulido, Professor at the University of Jaén.