CRISTINA MIRABELA GASPAR, ZORITA MARIA COCORA, ILEANA BRUDIU, CRISTIAN FLORIN LAZARESCU, RAMONA AMINA POPOVICI, CODRUTA VICTORIA TIGMEANU, IOAN TIBRU ABSORBENT FOOD PADS FROM MEAT PACKAGES-POTENTIAL SOURCE OF CONTAMINATION The purpose of this study was to quantify the microbial load and to detect potentially pathogenic germs on the surface of absorbent food pads in the packaging of fresh chicken and minced meat marketed in the retail units in Romania. The load in E. coli, as an indicator of faecal contamination, was significantly lower than that of Enterobacteriacea and coliform germs. Congo red-binding E. coli strains have been identified. The affinity for the Congo red dye is considered a phenotypic marker for the presence of curli fibers. These surface formations give the bacterial strains the ability to form biofilm on various surfaces. Their presence also correlates with the property of these bacterial strains to trigger severe infections in humans. These strains showed 100% resistance to fourth-generation cephalosporins, 87.5% to third-generation cephalosporins and 75% to quinolones. A single strain was resistant to meropenem. All the tested strains were susceptible to gentamicin. Coagulase-positive staphylococci were identified in 40% of the analyzed samples. Of the 30 strains of Staphylococcus spp. tested (coagulase-positive and negative), 63.3% proved to be methicillin-resistant and 43.3% had resistance to sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim. In one sample, it was detected Salmonella infantis. Thus, it can be appreciated that these absorbent food pads may be a source of direct contamination with potentially pathogenic and / or antibiotic-resistant germs for the persons who manipulates them in their domestic environment, as well as a source of cross-contamination of food and other surfaces in the kitchen.