Consumers' refrigeration practices have a significant impact on the safety and quality of foods. To determine the prevalence and the identity of microorganisms in domestic refrigerators, swab samples were taken from various locations in the refrigerators from 137 households in middle Tennessee. The swabs were inoculated into different media, and standard procedures were used to characterize the isolates. API 20E and API Listeria were used for identification of Enterobacteriaceae and Listeria spp., respectively. The Kirby-Bauer technique was used to test resistance of the isolates. Actual counts for aerobic and Enterobacteriaceae ranged from not detected to 8.53 and 8.39 log CFU per sample, respectively. Klebsiella pneumoniae (23.4%), Klebsiella oxytoca (6.8%), Klebsiella terrigena (4.0%), Enterobacter sakazakii (2.2%), and Yersinia enterocolitica (0.7%) were some of the bacteria of concern that were isolated from domestic refrigerators. Resistance to antibiotics was most common in erythromycin (39.9%), followed by ampicillin (33.8%), cefoxitin (12.8%), tetracycline (5%), streptomycin (4.0%), nalidixic acid (2.1%), kanamycin (1.4%), and colistin (0.7%). None of the isolates tested was resistant to ciprofloxacin or gentamycin. Listeria spp. were also detected in six refrigerators. These findings underline the need for greater consumer education regarding proper refrigerator cleaning and safe food handling practices.

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