Gastrointestinal carriage of Klebsiella pneumoniae is a predisposing factor for liver abscess in several Asian countries. To determine whether hypervirulent K. pneumoniae in the gut may be transmitted through food, we screened a range of raw and ready-to-eat (RTE) retail food by culture and recovered K. pneumoniae in 21% (147/698) of samples tested. Based on polymerase chain reactions (PCR), no K. pneumoniae isolates carried the rmpA gene linked to community-acquired pyogenic liver abscess, providing no evidence of a link between food and the liver disease. However, phenotypic resistance to multiple antibiotic classes was seen through disk diffusion tests and carriage of genetic elements ( wcaG , capsule types K1, K2, K54) associated with increased virulence (8%, 11/147) were observed by PCRs. Multidrug-resistant (MDR) isolates were from raw vegetables, chicken/pork livers, and a RTE poultry dish; one MDR K. pneumoniae isolate from raw beansprouts was resistant to a 3rd generation cephalosporin (ceftriaxone). While K. pneumoniae may be present in food without causing harm, we found isolates belonging to the K1 capsular serotype co-existing with the wcaG gene, once also conferring multidrug resistance. K. pneumoniae that carry antibiotic resistance genes, regardless of pathogenicity, may increase the available genetic pool of resistance along the food chain. Hygienic food handling practices are necessary to lower risks of acquiring K. pneumoniae and other opportunistic pathogens.

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