High levels of MRSA bacteria in retail meat products

Retail pork products in the U.S. have a higher prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA) than previously identified, according to new research by the University of Iowa College of Public Health and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

MRSA can occur in the environment and in raw , and is estimated to cause around 185,000 cases of food poisoning each year. The bacteria can also cause serious, life-threatening infections of the bloodstream, skin, lungs and other organs. MRSA is resistant to a number of antibiotics.

The study, published Jan. 19 in the online science journal , represents the largest sampling of raw meat products for MRSA contamination to date in the U.S. The researchers collected 395 raw pork samples from 36 stores in Iowa, Minnesota and New Jersey. Of these samples, 26--or about 7 percent--carried MRSA.

"This study shows that the meat we buy in our grocery stores has a higher prevalence of staph than we originally thought," says lead study author Tara Smith, Ph.D., interim director of the UI Center for Emerging and and assistant professor of epidemiology. "With this knowledge, we can start to recommend safer ways to handle raw meat products to make it safer for the consumer."

The study also found no significant difference in MRSA contamination between conventional and those raised without antibiotics or antibiotic growth promotants.

"We were surprised to see no significant difference in antibiotic-free and conventionally produced pork," Smith says. "Though it's possible that this finding has more to do with the handling of the at the plant than the way the animals were raised, it's certainly worth exploring further."

More information: To read the full findings from the study, visit: dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0030092

Provided by University of Iowa Health Care

5 /5 (5 votes)

Related Stories

Study finds MRSA in Midwestern swine, workers

Jan 23, 2009

The first study documenting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in swine and swine workers in the United States has been published by University of Iowa researchers.

Study finds fire stations contaminated with MRSA

Jun 01, 2011

MRSA transmission may be occurring in fire stations, according to a study published in the June issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the official publication of APIC – the Association for Professionals in Inf ...

Staph infections carry long-term risks

Jul 03, 2008

Patients who harbor the highly contagious bacterium causing staph infections can develop serious and sometimes deadly symptoms a year or longer after initial detection, a UC Irvine infectious disease researcher has found.

Recommended for you

Where Ebola battles are won

8 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Four hospitals that are home to advanced biocontainment facilities have become America's ground zero in the treatment of Ebola patients.

Depression tied to worse lumbar spine surgery outcomes

10 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Depressive symptoms are associated with poorer long-term outcome in patients undergoing surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS), according to research published in the Oct. 1 issue of The Sp ...

Ebola death toll edging to 4,900 mark: WHO

11 hours ago

The death toll in the world's worst-ever Ebola outbreak has edged closer to 4,900, while almost 10,000 people have now been infected, new figures from the World Health Organization showed Wednesday.

US to track everyone coming from Ebola nations

11 hours ago

U.S. authorities said Wednesday that everyone traveling into the U.S. from Ebola-stricken nations will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. That includes returning American aid workers, federal health employees ...

User comments