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MRSA bacteria widely present in retail pork, study finds

January 25, 2012
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MINNEAPOLIS — A study by published Jan. 19 found MRSA, a bacterium responsible for a number of infections in humans, in pork samples collected from retail stores at a higher rate than previously identified, according to a press release.

The study by researchers from the University of Iowa College of Public Health and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, titled “MRSA in conventional and alternative retail pork products,” represents the largest sampling of raw meat products for MRSA contamination to date in the United States.

In total, 395 pork samples were collected from a total of 36 stores in Iowa, Minnesota, and New Jersey. Among these samples, S. aureus — a bacteria that can cause serious human infections of the bloodstream, skin, lungs (pneumonia) and other organs — was isolated from 256 samples (64.8 percent) and of those, 26 pork samples (6.6 percent of the total) were found to contain MRSA.

“The latest results are more than double the prevalence found in previous studies of this kind. At 6.6 percent, pork is four times more likely to be carrying deadly MRSA than the average American, pointing to our food system and industrial farming as an avenue for MRSA to continue to spread,” said IATP’s David Wallinga.

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