No evidence eating, handling M.R.S.A.-tainted food ups human risk
of Article: http://www.meatnews.com/news/global_stories.asp?ArticleID=101161
(MEATPOULTRY.com, March 30,
by Bryan Salvage
PARMA, ITALY — An opinion
on the public health significance of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus
aureus (M.R.S.A.) in animals and foods published by the European Food
Safety Authority’s Panel on Biological Hazards (B.I.O.H.A.Z.) found that
there is currently no evidence that eating or handling food that may be
contaminated with M.R.S.A. may lead to an increased risk of humans becoming
healthy carriers or infected with this bacterium.
Where M.R.S.A. prevalence
in food-producing animals is high, people in contact with live animals,
especially farmers, veterinarians and their families, are at greater risk
than the general population, the panel also concluded.
In the case of food-producing animals, a specific type of M.R.S.A., known
as CC398, has emerged and is often carried without symptoms by
intensively-reared animals. The panel noted this strain represents a small
proportion of the overall cases of M.R.S.A. in the European Union. Various
types of M.R.S.A., including CC398, can be found in slaughterhouses and on
raw meat, but the panel stated that, based on current data, the risk of infection
for slaughterhouse workers and persons handling meat appears to be low.
"There’s no evidence to date that humans can become infected with the
CC398 strain of M.R.S.A. from eating contaminated food," said
Professor Dan Collins, chair of the B.I.O.H.A.Z. panel. "Neither is
there evidence that this strain has caused food poisoning."
The occurrence of CC398 varies widely throughout Europe, the panel further
noted. A risk for people in contact with live food-producing animals has
been identified and veterinarians and farmers, as well as their families
are at greater risk of becoming carriers or infected than the general
population. In affected countries, the CC398 strain is mostly detected in
pigs, veal calves, and broiler chickens.
Animal movement and contact between animals are each likely to be an
important factor for the transmission of CC398, the panel said. It added
since the most important routes of transmission to humans are through
direct contact with live animals and their environments, the most effective
control measures are likely to be at farm level.
Systematic monitoring of M.R.S.A. should be carried out to evaluate trends
in the development of M.R.S.A. in food-producing animals in all member
States, the B.I.O.H.A.Z. panel said. Further work should be performed on
harmonizing methods for sampling, detecting and quantifying M.R.S.A. in
humans and animals, and for detecting M.R.S.A. as a contaminant in food and
in the environment. The panel also recommended guidelines for screening of
patients admitted to hospitals should be expanded to include professional
categories exposed to intensively reared livestock.
Click on Assessment
of the Public Health significance of meticillin resistant Staphylococcus
aureus (MRSA) in animals and foods to read
the full opinion.