High levels of MRSA bacteria in retail meat products

January 20, 2012, University of Iowa Health Care

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."

Explore further: Nationwide study finds US meat and poultry is widely contaminated

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

Related Stories

Nationwide study finds US meat and poultry is widely contaminated

April 15, 2011
Drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria linked to a wide range of human diseases, are present in meat and poultry from U.S. grocery stores at unexpectedly high rates, according to a nationwide study by ...

Study finds fire stations contaminated with MRSA

June 1, 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 ...

Recommended for you

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

0 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.