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Staph in US meat supply


JBailey
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An article in the Chicago Tribune ascerts that as much as 25% of meat from samples in grocery stores in five (5) cities contains a strain of Staphylococcus aureus. This apparently is type of bacteria that can cause skin infections, pneumonia, sepsis or endocarditis that is drug resistant to three types of antibiotics.

I am not certain of their point of view. Are these facts we should be concerned about or do the study authors have an agenda about how animals are raised?

Edited by JBailey (log)

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This has been on the news programs here in L.A. today. Channel 9 and Channel 2, both CBS affiliates, had fairly long segments several times today.

I believe it. My vet has told me of several, difficult to treat infections around the mouths of dogs and also cats whose owners have them on the popular raw diet.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Are these facts we should be concerned about or do the study authors have an agenda about how animals are raised?

These are not mutually exclusive. They may have an agenda, but drug-resistant diseases are a growing global problem, not just in livestock, but in all kinds of bacterial and viral diseases. It's simply evolution in action. Here's some general info about some of the affected diseases. Given the conditions under which much livestock is kept and the prevalence of antibiotic use in the industry, this sort of result is hardly surprising.

Also, apparently not even new news.

Drug-resistant salmonella, too.

Edited by Moopheus (log)

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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This story on CNN indicates that nearly half the US meat supply carries a type of staph bacteria:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/04/15/bacteria.in.half.US.meat/index.html

It seems it isn't that much of a concern from a practical standpoint, but there is at least some indication that we should wear gloves when handling raw meat.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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. . . .

It seems it isn't that much of a concern from a practical standpoint, but there is at least some indication that we should wear gloves when handling raw meat.

Gloves make sense, but I'm curious as to whether the contamination is surface contamination, or found deep in the muscle tissue too. In the book Guess What Came to Dinner', the author describes a protocol for killing superficial pathogens on food (including bacteria), which may be worth looking into, particularly for households that include the very young/elderly.

So much for antibiotic use in animal husbandry not being a problem.

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but I'm curious as to whether the contamination is surface contamination, or found deep in the muscle tissue too. In the book Guess What Came to Dinner', the author describes a protocol for killing superficial pathogens on food (including bacteria), which may be worth looking into, particularly for households that include the very young/elderly.

So much for antibiotic use in animal husbandry not being a problem.

Recently, Bill Marler has been talking about how jacking muscle meat may take the bugs further into meat. Somehow this information was out before this study.

Here is a link to the study:

http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/04/14/cid.cir181.full.pdf

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It is hard to know what perspective to use with this finding. On the one hand, about 30% of people carry Staph aureus in the nose, groin or arm pit with no problems. Some of them even harbor MRSA without problems. On the other hand Staph can be a big deal when one is infected (though not usually) and these bugs certainly could cause food poisoning.

Is one at risk for infection when handling meat? I'm not aware of increased staph infections it butchers.

Food safety guidelines were made with this possibility in mind, so I'd say they should be adequate.

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An article in the Chicago Tribune ascerts that as much as 25% of meat from samples in grocery stores in five (5) cities contains a strain of Staphylococcus aureus. This apparently is type of bacteria that can cause skin infections, pneumonia, sepsis or endocarditis that is drug resistant to three types of antibiotics.

I am not certain of their point of view. Are these facts we should be concerned about or do the study authors have an agenda about how animals are raised?

To put it in perspective, 30% of humans carry Staph aureus in their noses too. Not to say that no problems could happen. If anything this is evidence that food safety recs are not to be ignored.

This isn't new news either. If you search staphylococcus aureus and meat on pub med there are thousands of papers that come up.

Edited by gfweb (log)
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First of all my apologies, secondly:

"Researchers tested 136 packages of chicken, turkey, pork, and ground beef purchased at 26 grocery stores in five cities around the country, and found that 47 percent contained Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), a common cause of infection in people."

-Quite the focus group this study had going for it. Contextually I understand it means the total, not that they purchased 136 packages of each? No specification of how many packages of each, etc. etc.

edit: Just read the actual study, yes total of 136, and the different types vary, pork seems to have been the least tested.

editedit: "80 unique brands from 26

grocery stores" <- different suppliers, or no?

Edited by Karri (log)

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F

editedit: "80 unique brands from 26

grocery stores" <- different suppliers, or no?

Maybe--I guess you'd have to check the packaging to see if they were marked with plant codes or other indications of where the meat was actually processed. Then you'd have to know where the feedlots were where the animals were kept. Then, I suppose, you could do a follow up study with more samples from those plants. Likely the authors of the study didn't get quite that far into it. Still, the spread of drug-resistant strains is a pretty predictable result from modern practices.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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Staph in meat isn't a new issue. You can Google it. Its been reported for several years. You can believe it as being true. And why shouldn't it be? If it lives on us, why not them?

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And that is not my argument, you really don't like discussin the point, do you? What I said is the numbers seem quite high, and a study like that won't tell you anything reliable.

In the US if I travelled to 5 different cities and asked a total amount of 136 people their favourite flavor of ice cream, could I extrapolate that data to cover all and every single US citizen?

Or in this study's case if I asked the same person 136 times, which is a possibility.

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My point is that no one should believe that study because the focus group is not big enough, the specifics are not... specific enough. It seems like a half-assed attempt at media-rave to me.

The perfect vichyssoise is served hot and made with equal parts of butter to potato.

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I am never surprised when stuff like this comes out, really. I mean, do any of us really think that the US meat supply is completely safe?

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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My point is that no one should believe that study because the focus group is not big enough, the specifics are not... specific enough. It seems like a half-assed attempt at media-rave to me.

This wretched study got past those dopey editors at Clinical Infectious Disease.

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I'm sorry but I can't find it, could you help me please?

edit: found it, it is the same material yes, and yes, you are correct, it is a shame that garbage like this sometimes makes it through to actually important publications.

Edited by Karri (log)

The perfect vichyssoise is served hot and made with equal parts of butter to potato.

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Staph in meat isn't a new issue. You can Google it. Its been reported for several years. You can believe it as being true. And why shouldn't it be? If it lives on us, why not them?

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I think what they are saying is new is the presence of drug-resistant strains. And there's nothing in the report that suggests that authors intended this to be a comprehensive, definitive survey; it was published as a "brief report." They actually make no claims that this can be extrapolated universally. In fact, quite the opposite, only that wide study is needed. Indeed, the FDA and CDC have been tracking the prevalence of drug-resistant diseases in your meat supply for some years now. You can find the reports here. It would appear that the only reason the drug-resistant staph was not found before is that it is not one of the diseases tracked by NARMS, which is to say, just because this is the first time someone bothered to test for it.

Edited by Moopheus (log)

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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You are right, more study is needed. But it has been found before. Here's a ref from 2009 and I believe that I've seen earlier ones.

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Strain ST398 Is Present in Midwestern U.S. Swine and Swine Workers

Tara C. Smith, Michael J. Male, Abby L. Harper, Jennifer S. Kroeger, Gregory P. Tinkler, Erin D. Moritz, Ana W. Capuano, Loreen A. Herwaldt, and Daniel J. Diekema

PLoS ONE. 2009; 4(1): e4258. Published online 2009 January 23. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004258.

To me the phenomenon is established. Although the extent hasn't been precisely quantified,I'd move on toward finding ways to control the degree of colonization/contamination. A disinfectant bath before slaughter perhaps?

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My point is that no one should believe that study because the focus group is not big enough, the specifics are not... specific enough. It seems like a half-assed attempt at media-rave to me.

How do you know that 136 samples is not enough? You don't: you can not say, based on how the data is presented, whether or not they used enough samples. You might be of the opinion that 136 is not enough, and that 250 or 400 or 1,000 samples would be sufficient, but in reality, it all comes down to statistics. Unfortunately, the paper does not list a single p-value (which represents the chances that the finds are completely coincidence), so you really can't correctly say whether or not 136 is actually enough samples.

You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but you 'point' is more assertive than mere speculation.

Although for the record, you're probably right: they probably don't have p-values because they aren't significant, and therefore don't scientifically support their findings. Or they were too lazy or cheap to pay a statistician. :rolleyes:

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To me the phenomenon is established. Although the extent hasn't been precisely quantified,I'd move on toward finding ways to control the degree of colonization/contamination. A disinfectant bath before slaughter perhaps?

That sounds tasty. But I don't think you can solve a problem caused by overuse of antimicrobials with more antimicrobials; that way lies madness. The inertia of the system works against change: the food producers have designed their system to be able to process meat as quickly and cheaply as they can, pretty much regardless of any consequence. Introducing quality or safety controls slows the process and hence increases costs; the processors will fight tooth and nail (or hoof) to resist. And they have a lot of power to do so, with friends in Congress and the agencies that are supposed to oversee them.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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