Introduction: Restaurants are one of the most common cause of food poisoning worldwide by the contamination in the source of food, the way of food processing or staff. Microbial contamination of non-food contact surface can occur at various times of food processing. It can be transmitted through table, dishes, menus and other surfaces. Many resistant bacteria and their mode of resistance can come from natural environments including soils and water. Therefore, this study aimed to isolate and characterise bacterial species that contaminate non-food contact surfaces in different restaurants through Qassim region, Saudi Arabia.
Methods: This was an experimental study design performed on selected restaurants including high-ways, fast food and five-stars rated restaurants in Qassim region, Saudi Arabia. Forty-two (N=42) samples were collected from tables, dishes and menus. Collected samples were then cultured and each isolated bacterium was identified using standard bacteriological methods. Isolates were further analysed using Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionisation Time-of-Flight (MALDI-TOF technology) and Beckman Coulter MicroScan.
Results: Thirteen different species of microorganisms were successfully isolated and identified. The most isolated bacteria were Panatoea spp. (27%) followed by Staphylococcus spp.(25%), Micrococcus spp. (20%), Enterococcus faecalis (9%), Bacillus spp. (8%), Acinetobacter spp.(3%), Paenibacillus faecis (2%), Ewingella americana (1%), Proteus spp.(1%), Psycobacter spp. (1%), Pasteurella spp. (1%), Massilia timonae (1%) and Aspergillus fumigatus (2%). A number of isolated bacteria were also found to be resistant to amoxicillin, ampicillin, azithromycin and vancomycin.
Conclusion: This study elucidates the restaurants as potential areas of bacterial accumulation. Isolates had not been reported before like Ewingella americana and Paenibacillus faecis were successfully found in this study. The results of current study may help to guide the cleaning protocols on microbial contamination of non-food contact surfaces in restaurants and improves the food safety for the public. Further studies are required to elaborate biofilm existence which might act as a long-term source of contamination.