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News 559 views update:Feb 3, 2010

11% of meat contaminated with MRSA bacteria

A recent study carried out by the risk department of the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (VWA) revealed that 11% of meat products in the retail sector are contaminated with the hospital bacteria 'MRSA'.

MRSA is the name given to a group of bacteria that belong to the Staphylococcus aureus family. The people most at risk of becoming infected are those in close contact with people carrying the bacteria. Nt-MRSA (non-typable MRSA) is a clone of MRSA.
Meat does not contribute to the spread of the bacteria, which is resistant to most antibiotics, says the Authority. However, nt-MRSA can be spread where livestock is kept.
Live animals
Suprisingly, most nt-MRSA is found in the meat of turkeys (31%) and chickens (27%). With live animals, the bacteria are only found in pigs and calves.
The figures surprised MRSA-specialist, Arie van Nes, from the Faculty of Animal Health in Utrecht, who thought it could perhaps spread through processing.
As yet, MRSA has not been found in live poultry. The animal health authority has confirmed that 50% of animals on pig farms are infected with the bacteria. As regards the level of infection on cattle farms, the figure is not yet known, but is under research.
 
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