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Lack of proper hygiene and using from low quality raw materials cause high presence of food-borne pathogens in ready to eat foods. Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli is one of the most common cause of food-borne diseases in the world. The present research was done to study the prevalence and distribution of virulence factors in the STEC strains isolated from various types of ready to eat food samples. Seven-hundred and twenty food samples were collected and cultured. Isolated E. coli bacteria were approved another time using the 16S rRNA-based PCR amplification. Approved strains were subjected to multiplex PCR for identification of putative virulence factors. Twenty-six out of 720 food samples (5.20%) were positive for E. coli. Salad (15%), candy (12.50%) and barbecue (10%) were the most commonly contaminated. Prevalence of STEC strains was 2.63%. Prevalence of EHEC and AEEC subtypes were 36.84% and 52.63%, respectively. EHEC strains harbored all three stx1, eae and ehly genes. High presence of EHEC strains besides the considerable distribution of multiple virulence factors showed an important public health issue regarding the consumption of ready to eat foods.
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