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Bacteria in Condiment Sauces on Tables in Mexican-Style Restaurants in Guadalajara, Mexico, and Houston, Texas FREE

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The summary below is from the full report titled “Enteric Pathogens in Mexican Sauces of Popular Restaurants in Guadalajara, Mexico, and Houston, Texas.” It is in the 18 June 2002 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 136, pages 884-887). The authors are JA Adachi, JJ Mathewson, Z-D Jiang, CD Ericsson, and HL DuPont.

Ann Intern Med. 2002;136(12):I-56. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-136-12-200206180-00005
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What is the problem and what is known about it so far?

Traveler's diarrhea results when travelers eat or drink food or water that is contaminated with certain types of bacteria. These bacteria (bacterial enteropathogens) commonly cause traveler's diarrhea among tourists in Mexico. Although Escherichia coli (E. coli) is normally present in the intestines of humans, certain types of E. coli cause traveler's diarrhea. Information about the types of foods that become contaminated with E. coli can help travelers reduce their risk for diarrhea.

Why did the researchers do this particular study?

To see whether Mexican-style sauces kept on restaurant tables (such as salsas and guacamole) contain the bacteria that cause traveler's diarrhea.

What was studied?

The researchers studied samples of 71 sauces from 36 restaurants in Guadalajara, Mexico, and 25 sauces from 12 restaurants in Houston, Texas. The restaurants were popular, locally owned, nonchain establishments that served primarily Mexican-style food. In particular, the researchers studied green, red, pico de gallo, and guacamole sauces.

How was the study done?

The researchers collected tablespoon-size samples of the sauces and tested them for the presence of the types of E. coli that cause traveler's diarrhea. If they found E. coli, they measured the amount of bacteria.

What did the researchers find?

Escherichia coli was found in 47 of the 71 sauce samples (66%) from the Guadalajara restaurants and in 10 of the 25 sauce samples (40%) from the Houston restaurants. The E. coli that cause diarrhea were only found in the sauces from the restaurants in Mexico and were found in many samples.

What were the limitations of the study?

The researchers tested sauces in a small number of restaurants in only two cities. The results may not apply to sauces in other locations. The researchers did not check to see whether anyone developed diarrhea after eating the sauces.

What are the implications of the study?

Tabletop sauces are a potential source of the bacteria that cause traveler's diarrhea.





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