Friday, July 11, 2008

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria (MRSA) in pork?

Ashley from Epicurean Ideal points our attention toward's online coverage of the dangerous Staph bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics.
We know that some strains of MRSA – methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus – are extremely dangerous. Dr. Monina Klevens, of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, examined the cases of the disease reported in hospitals, schools and prisons in one year and extrapolated that "94,360 invasive MRSA infections occurred in the United States in 2005; these infections were associated with death in 18,650 cases."

Earlier his year, Dr. Scott Weese, from the Department of Pathobiology at the Ontario Veterinary College told those attending the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases at the CDC that there was a problem. He and his colleagues had found MRSA in 10 percent of 212 samples of pork chops and ground pork bought in four Canadian provinces. Picture

"I think it is very likely that the situation is the same in the U.S.," he told me in a phone interview.

"We've proven MRSA is in pigs and the marketed pork in Canada, and we know that it's also in U.S. pigs. It's inconceivable that it wouldn't also be found in the pork products from those pigs."

This raised a bunch of obvious questions, such as, who exactly is checking to see if antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria is in the 762 million pounds of Canadian pork that's imported into the U.S. each year?

The answer appears to be no one.

It should be the USDA.
One question is whether heavy use of antibiotics in industrial pork farming contributes to the problem. Since the bacteria can be killed by cooking, another question is whether it is still dangerous for people who handle raw pork in the kitchen (perhaps by touching their mouth or eyes while cooking, for example). See also

No comments: