Foodborne diseases and antibiotic resistance are serious widespread health problems in the contemporary world. In this study, we compared the microbiological quality of ready-to-eat (RTE) foods found in community canteens versus hospital canteens in Rome, Italy, focusing on detection and quantification of Enterobacteriaceae and the antibiotic resistance of these bacteria. Our findings show a remarkable difference in Enterobacteriaceae contamination between RTE foods distributed in community canteens (33.5% of samples) and those distributed in hospital canteens (5.3% of samples). This result highlights greater attention to good manufacturing practices and good hygiene practices by the food operators in hospitals compared with food operators in community canteens. As expected, a higher percentage of cold food samples (70.9%) than of hot food samples (10.8%) were positive for these bacteria. Excluding the intrinsic resistance of each bacterial strain, 92.3% of the isolated strains were resistant to at least one antibiotic, and about half of the isolated strains were classified as multidrug resistant. The prevalence of multidrug-resistant strains was 50% in the community samples and 33.3% in hospital canteens. Our results indicate that approximately 38% of RTE foods provided in community canteens is not compliant with microbiological food safety criteria and could be a special risk for consumers through spread of antibiotic-resistant strains. Hygienic processing and handling of foods is necessary for both hospital and community canteens.

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