It is the first time such a discovery has been made, as such bacteria has ordinarily been found in medical settings and spread by infected patients.
But the finding means that the risk of exposure to such bacteria extends to a much wider group – beyond the sick or hospitalised and those with extensive travel history.
“This finding means a much broader segment of the population is potentially at risk for exposure. It’s something you may be bringing into your home rather than something you would acquire while traveling or following hospitalization,” Jospeh Rubin, a professor of veterinary microbiology from the University of Saskatchewan, told reporters.
The bacteria found in squid, Pseudomonas fluorescens, is quite a common organism found in it’s natural environment and present in dirt and water.
But researchers found it contains a gene that makes it resistant to carbapenems – last line of defence antibiotics. This type of bacteria is capable of being quite dangerous to humans as once it enters a person’s body it can transfer that antibiotic-resistance gene to other bacteria.
Ordinarily the bacteria would not affect a healthy person, however for those with suppressed or compromised immune systems it could be fatal.
“Finding this organism in food is extremely disturbing,” Rubin said. “This widens the possibilities for the spread of resistance.”
While cooking the squid would kill such bacteria, the fear is that cross-contamination of kitchen surfaces and through human contact could increase the potential for the bacteria to spread.
Researchers say they stumbled across the finding after looking at speciality frozen imported food samples from a local shop, which included the squid, frog legs and sea cucumbers. Only one squid showed the presence of the microbe and it is unclear whether it was acquired in its natural environment or during food processing and handling.