Tue Sep 19, 2017 | 17:18
US meat tainted with resistant bacteria
Sat, 16 Apr 2011 12:56:55 GMT
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Meat and poultry sold in five major US cities is widely contaminated with some drug-resistant types of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.

The new report published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases, 47 percent of the beef, chicken, pork and turkey samples taken from grocery stores in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Flagstaff Ariz., and Fort Lauderdale Fla were contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus (S. Aureus).

According to the report released by the nonprofit Translational Genomics Research Institute, about 96 percent of the tainted samples contained a tough strain of S. aureus bacteria, resistant to at least one antibiotic.

Moreover, the bacteria found in 52 percent of the contaminated meat were resistant to three or more types of antibiotics.

“Staph causes hundreds of thousands of infections in the United States every year,” said lead researcher Lance Price. “It causes a whole slew of infections ranging from skin infections to really bad respiratory infections like pneumonia.”

The most significant finding of the study is not the contamination level of the meats, but the fact that the bacteria are becoming more resistant to antibiotics used to treat animals before slaughter, the authors warned.

“The bacteria is always going to be there. But the reason why they're resistant is directly related to antibiotic use in food animal production,” Price added. “Antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to public health we face today.”

In response, the American Meat Institute (AMI), the biggest meat and poultry trade association in the US says the study “misleads consumers about US meat and poultry, which is among the safest in the world.”

Calling the number of the studied samples insufficient, the AMI added, “These bacteria are destroyed through normal cooking procedures, which may account for the small percentage of food borne illnesses linked to these bacteria.”

Referring to the findings, Price emphasized that “this is one more reason to be very careful when you're handling raw meat and poultry in the kitchen."

“You can cook away these bacteria. But the problem is when you bring in that raw product, you almost inevitably contaminate your kitchen with these bacteria,” he added.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials, however, stressed that they are aware of the findings of these studies and other similar researches and is working with the US Agriculture Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (DC) on the issue.

SJM/PKH
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