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Drug Resistant Bacteria Found In Half Of US Meat And Chicken

Drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus were found in nearly half of meat and poultry samples, and were likely from the animal themselves, a study reported.

Meat Department by Anthony Albright via Flickr and Creative CommonsResearchers collected and analyzed 136 samples of 80 brands of beef, chicken, pork and turkey from 26 retail grocery stores in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Flagstaff, Ariz. Among the samples, 47% were contaminated with S. aureus, and 52% of the strains were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics–and some to nine antibiotics.

Translational Genomics Research Institute, a non-profit research organization, conducted the study and published results in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

DNA testing suggested that the food animals themselves were the major source of contamination.

“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, PhD, 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.”

He cited the use of antibiotics at industrial farms as creating “ideal” breeding grounds for drug-resistant bacteria that move from animals to humans.

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 authors concluded that a more comprehensive inspection program is needed.

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

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