staph-aureus-bacteria-16790.jpgA new study, conducted by a team of researchers from the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Flagstaff, Arizona, was published today in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. In undertaking the study, researchers hoped to determine the prevalence as well as the antibiotic susceptibility profiles of Staphylococcus aureus in the U.S. food supply.

The team, led by Lance B. Price, Ph.D., collected and tested a total of 136 meat and poultry samples from 5 U.S. cities including Chicago, Washington, D.C., Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, and Flagstaff. The samples, encompassing 80 unique brands collected from 26 grocery stores, included ground beef, pork and turkey, chicken breasts and thighs, pork chops, and turkey cutlets.

Researchers first analyzed the meat to determine whether S. aureus was present. If bacteria were found, they then identified the specific strain. Finally, the team examined whether the strain was resistant to various classes of antibiotics. The results of the study are staggering.

The study revealed that 47 percent of the samples contained S. aureus, and that “96 percent of those S. aureus isolates were resistant to at least 1 antimicrobial.” Researchers reported that of the meat samples tested, “S. aureus contamination was most common among turkey samples (77 percent; 20/26), followed by pork (42 percent; 11/26), chicken (41 percent; 19/46), and beef (37 percent; 14/38).” In addition, the study found that 52 percent of S. aureus isolates discovered showed multi-drug resistance, which was defined as resistance to at least 3 antibiotic classes.

In an interview conducted by Maryn McKenna, author of the important blog, Superbug, Dr. Lance Price said, “This is the first study to show that antibiotic-resistant staph is highly prevalent in the American food supply.” Dr. Price explained that these high numbers only increase the threat of potential cross-contamination that may occur in consumers’ homes and kitchens.

For more information about antibiotic-resistant S. aureus, visit