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Sunday 1 May 2011

Ugly Meat

Editor- Khushboo Pathak
Ref: - Science Daily (Apr. 15, 2011) and
                          The Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases. 

The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of antibiotics in animal feed nearly 50 years ago.  In food animals, antibiotics are used in four ways: to promote growth of animal, to prevent, treat and control diseases such as pneumonia, hepatitis and salmonellosis.

The report pointed out that in the U.S. meat industry; large commercial farming operations pre-emptively treat animals with a range of antibiotics, providing for ideal breeding grounds for drug-resistant bacteria that move from animals to humans. The results of the analysis just serve to confirm the growing danger for the American population. Although the federal government regularly examines meat and poultry for contamination by four strains of drug-resistant bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus is not one of them.

Staphylococcus aureus is a Gram-positive, catalase-positive communal bacterium colonizing in both humans and animals. Staphylococcus aureus is known for causing food poisoning through the production of enterotoxins.Worldwide, strains have emerged that are resistant to a wide range of antibiotics.

The meat was analyzed for the presence of Staphylococcus aureus, because Staphylococcus aureus has been found in the past in several food-animal species.

For the first time, we know how much of our meat and poultry is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and it is substantial. Meat samples were taken from a single randomly chosen piece of meat that was being prepared.

Drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus are present in meat and poultry from U.S. grocery stores at unexpectedly high rates, according to a nationwide study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

For their study, the researchers collected and analyzed 136 samples out of 80 brands of beef, turkey pork and chicken from a total of 26 supermarkets among locations in Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C.; and, Flagstaff, Arizona. Their findings showed that 47 percent of the samples contained the very common pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, and 96 percent of Staphylococcus aureus isolates were resistant to at least one antibiotic. Of more concern 52 percent of those staph isolates were resistant to at least three types of antibiotics.

The antibiotics to which the Staphylococcus aureus was resistant included: Penicillin and Ampicillin; Erythromycin; Tetracycline; Oxacillin and the more modern form of the drug Methicillin.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterium responsible for several difficult-to-treat infections in humans. It is any strain Staphylococcus aureus of that has developed resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics which include the Penicillin (Methicillin, Nafcillin, Oxacillin, etc.) and the Cephalosporin. It may also be called Multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or Oxacillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (ORSA).

MRSA may progress substantially within 24–48 hours of initial topical symptoms. After 72 hours MRSA can take hold in human tissues and eventually become resistant to treatment.
MRSA is especially troublesome in hospitals, where patients with open wounds and weakened immune systems are at greater risk of infection than the general public.

Vancomycin and Teicoplanin are glycopeptides antibiotics used to treat MRSA infections.Because the oral absorption of Vancomycin and Teicoplanin is very low, these agents must be administered intravenously to control systemic infections.

The more an antibiotic is used, the more the bacteria will become resistant to it. In addition to the dangers of ingesting the antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it is also possible for drug-resistant bacteria to transfer their genetic material to other bacteria. This means that if you consume a harmless "bug" carrying a resistance-causing gene, that gene could be passed to a more harmful form of bacteria that's already in your body, making it an antibiotic resistant.

Also DNA testing suggests that the food animals themselves were the major source of contamination.DNA testing confirmed the presence and specific types of Staphylococcus aureus.The bacteria were exposed to antibiotics from different classes to determine which drugs could kill the germs and which could not. The bottom line is, the more we use antibiotics in injudicious ways, and the more we are compromising our ability to save human lives in the future.

Food producers say their products are safe. Although experts note that Staphylococcus aureus bacteria can be killed by thoroughly cooking meat, it may still pose a risk to consumers regarding improper handling during preparation. Cross-contamination can easily occur by such practices as re-using a cutting board or knife that has come in contact with the raw meat and this can lead to infection.

The most important message for consumers is to follow proper food safety methods, such as Consumers should wash sinks, utensils and hands thoroughly after handling all raw meat and poultry, handle meat and poultry with gloves, especially if they have any wounds on their hands. Following good food safety practices will ensure that consumers continue to enjoy safe, high-quality, and nutritious food products.