U.S. Meat and Poultry Widely Contaminated with Staphylococcus Aureus

Author: Translational Genomics Research Institute
Published: 2011/04/15 - Updated: 2022/04/24
Contents: Summary - Introduction - Main - Related

Synopsis: Drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus Aureus present in meat and poultry from American grocery stores at unexpectedly high rates. The fact that drug-resistant S. Aureus was so prevalent, and likely came from the food animals themselves, is troubling, and demands attention to how antibiotics are used in food-animal production today. The U.S. government routinely surveys retail meat and poultry for four types of drug-resistant bacteria, but S. Aureus is not among them. The paper suggests that a more comprehensive inspection program is needed.

Introduction

Drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus Aureus, a bacterium 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 the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Main Digest

Nearly half of the meat and poultry samples, 47 percent, were contaminated with S. Aureus, and more than half of those bacteria 52 percent were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics, according to the study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

This is the first national assessment of antibiotic resistant S. Aureus in the U.S. food supply. And, DNA testing suggests that the food animals themselves were the major source of contamination.

Although Staph should be killed with proper cooking, it may still pose a risk to consumers through improper food handling and cross-contamination in the kitchen.

Researchers collected and analyzed 136 samples covering 80 brands of beef, chicken, pork, and turkey from 26 retail grocery stores in five U.S. cities: Los Angeles, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Flagstaff and Washington, D.C.

"For the first time, we know how much of our meat and poultry is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Staph, and it is substantial," said Lance B. Price, Ph.D., senior author of the study and Director of TGen's Center for Food Microbiology and Environmental Health.

"The fact that drug-resistant S. Aureus was so prevalent, and likely came from the food animals themselves, is troubling, and demands attention to how antibiotics are used in food-animal production today," Dr. Price said.

Densely stocked industrial farms, where food animals are steadily fed low doses of antibiotics, are ideal breeding grounds for drug-resistant bacteria that move from animals to humans, the report says.

"Antibiotics are the most important drugs that we have to treat Staph infections; but when Staph is resistant to three, four, five, or even nine different antibiotics "like we saw in this study "that leaves physicians few options," Dr. Price said.

"The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria "including Staph "remains a major challenge in clinical medicine," said Paul S. Keim, Ph.D., Director of TGen's Pathogen Genomics Division and Director of the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics at Northern Arizona University (NAU).

"This study shows that much of our meat and poultry is contaminated with multi-drug-resistant Staph. Now we need to determine what this means in terms of risk to the consumer," said Dr. Keim, a co-author of the paper.

The U.S. government routinely surveys retail meat and poultry for four types of drug-resistant bacteria, but S. Aureus is not among them. The paper suggests that a more comprehensive inspection program is needed.

S. Aureus can cause a range of illnesses from minor skin infections to life-threatening diseases, such as pneumonia, endocarditis, and sepsis.

The study was supported through a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts as part of The Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming.

Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen)

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life-changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research, where investigators can unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. TGen is affiliated with the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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This quality-reviewed publication titled U.S. Meat and Poultry Widely Contaminated with Staphylococcus Aureus was selected for publishing by Disabled World's editors due to its relevance to the disability community. While the content may have been edited for style, clarity, or brevity, it was originally authored by Translational Genomics Research Institute and published 2011/04/15 (Edit Update: 2022/04/24). For further details or clarifications, you can contact Translational Genomics Research Institute directly at tgen.org Disabled World does not provide any warranties or endorsements related to this article.

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