Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, or MRSA, have been found in retail pork products purchased in Canada. The discovery by Canadian researchers raises questions about how the contamination occurred, how often it happens and the implications for human health. The finding supports discoveries made by Dutch scientists at the University of Utrecht, who had similar results when screening meat from retail shelves.

The Canadian Press reports that under 10 percent of pork chops sampled plus samples of ground pork recently purchased in four provinces had tested positive for MRSA. The findings were presented by Scott Weese during the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.

He said that Staph food poisoning is not a major concern because the bacteria are destroyed by proper cooking. However, he did have concerns about people handling meat with MRSA on its surface and the possibility of inadvertently infecting themselves. He said that people who carry the bacteria on their skin or in their nostrils are at greater risk of developing a Staph infection. Such symptoms range from a difficult to heal skin lesion to pneumonia and a potentially deadly bloodstream infection.

"My main concern is: if there's MRSA on the surface of a pork chop and someone's handling it and then they touch their nose, could they transmit it from the pork chop to their nose?" noted Weese, a veterinarian based at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph. "If they do what they're supposed to do in terms of meat handling, then it should be perfectly safe. But do people do that is the question?"

Source: The