MRSA Found in Retail Meat Samples
A recent Louisiana State University study found nearly 5% of the raw pork it examined to be contaminated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and 45.6% was contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus).
MRSA is an antibiotic-resistant bacterium that now kills more people each year than HIV/AIDS. S. aureus is the most common cause of staph infections.
The researchers examined 120 retail meat samples (90 pork and 30 beef) from 30 grocery stores in Baton Rouge, Louisiana over a six-week period. Seventy-three percent of the grocery stores had S. aureus contaminated meats and 10% sold human epidemic MRSA-positive meats.
MRSA was also found in one beef sample and S. aureus was discovered in 20% of the beef.
According to the researchers, the high prevalence of MRSA and S. aureus in retail meats raise public health concerns. The presence of MRSA may pose a threat of infecting people who handle the raw meat.
European studies have documented the transmission of MRSA from pigs to pig farmers, and a recent University of Iowa study found the bacterium in Midwest hogs and CAFO operators. Recent studies in The Netherlands and Canada have shown that 20-40% of pigs harbor MRSA.
The Louisiana State University study, the first to examine retail meats, concludes that MRSA is present in the US food chain, likely due to human contamination. It recommends further research to better assess the risk to meat handlers and consumers.