Assessing the Prevalence and Potential Risks of Salmonella Infection Associated with Fresh Salad Vegetable Consumption in the United Arab Emirates

Ihab Habib, Mushtaq Khan, Mohamed Yousif Ibrahim Mohamed, Akela Ghazawi, Afra Abdalla, Glindya Lakshmi, Mohammed Elbediwi, Hassan Mohamed Al Marzooqi, Hanan Sobhy Afifi, Mohamed Gamal Shehata, Rami Al-Rifai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This study aimed to investigate the occurrence and characteristics of Salmonella isolates in salad vegetables in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Out of 400 samples tested from retail, only 1.25% (95% confidence interval, 0.41–2.89) were found to be positive for Salmonella, all of which were from conventional local produce, presented at ambient temperature, and featured as loose items. The five Salmonella-positive samples were arugula (n = 3), dill (n = 1), and spinach (n = 1). The Salmonella isolates from the five samples were found to be pan-susceptible to a panel of 12 antimicrobials tested using a disc diffusion assay. Based on whole-genome sequencing (WGS) analysis, only two antimicrobial resistance genes were detected—one conferring resistance to aminoglycosides (aac(6′)-Iaa) and the other to fosfomycin (fosA7). WGS enabled the analysis of virulence determinants of the recovered Salmonella isolates from salad vegetables, revealing a range from 152 to 165 genes, collectively grouped under five categories, including secretion system, fimbrial adherence determinants, macrophage-inducible genes, magnesium uptake, and non-fimbrial adherence determinants. All isolates were found to possess genes associated with the type III secretion system (TTSS), encoded by Salmonella pathogenicity island-1 (SPI-1), but various genes associated with the second type III secretion system (TTSS-2), encoded by SPI-2, were absent in all isolates. Combining the mean prevalence of Salmonella with information regarding consumption in the UAE, an exposure of 0.0131 salmonellae consumed per person per day through transmission via salad vegetables was calculated. This exposure was used as an input in a beta-Poisson dose–response model, which estimated that there would be 10,584 cases of the Salmonella infection annually for the entire UAE population. In conclusion, salad vegetables sold in the UAE are generally safe for consumption regarding Salmonella occurrence, but occasional contamination is possible. The results of this study may be used for the future development of risk-based food safety surveillance systems in the UAE and to elaborate on the importance for producers, retailers, and consumers to follow good hygiene practices, particularly for raw food items such as leafy salad greens.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3060
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


  • Middle East
  • Salmonella
  • WGS
  • leafy greens
  • risk analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Microbiology
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Plant Science


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