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

Related Stories

Study finds MRSA in Midwestern swine, workers

date 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

date 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

date 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

UK nurse cured of Ebola after receiving new treatment

date 10 minutes ago

A British army reservist who contracted Ebola while working as a volunteer nurse in Sierra Leone has fully recovered after becoming the first patient in the world to receive an experimental new treatment.

COPD takes big toll on employment, mobility in US

date 36 minutes ago

(HealthDay)—The respiratory illness known as COPD takes a toll on mobility and employment, with a new report finding that nearly one-quarter of Americans with the condition are unable to work.

Genetic test for inherited kidney diseases developed

date 3 hours ago

Many kidney disorders are difficult to diagnose. To address this problem, scientists and clinicians have developed a diagnostic test that identifies genetic changes linked to inherited kidney disorders. This ...

Diagnosing infectious diseases at the point-of-care

date 4 hours ago

A major problem with current testing for infectious diseases in Africa is that it focuses on individual diseases and cannot reliably discriminate between them. Since most infectious diseases have the same ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.