MRSA, a bacteria resistant to common antibiotics, has been discovered in supermarket meats, and the germ is apparently being introduced by human food handlers, a new study reports.
Although thorough cooking will kill the bacteria, consumers run the risk of infection if they handle meats contaminated with the germ, researchers said.
MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is common in hospitals and nursing homes, where it can cause serious illness and even death. And so-called "community-acquired MRSA" has become a problem among some high school and college athletes who share equipment; this type of MRSA appears as a skin infection and is usually less serious, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It's the community-acquired MRSA that was found in the meats, the researchers said.
"MRSA has always been found in human patients, but we found this in retail meat, so retail meat can be a reservoir of these bugs," said study lead researcher Yifan Zhang, an assistant professor in the department of nutrition and food science at Wayne State University in Detroit.