MRSA and Pork
We have known for a while that pigs carry MRSA, and a few months ago a University of Iowa study found a “virulent” strain of MRSA in pigs there, but no one from our USDA is yet testing pork for MRSA.
A group called “The Problem Solvers”, along with a network of stations in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and California did their own testing purchasing 97 packages of pork cutlets and ground pork. The samples were sent to IEH Laboratories, a USDA-certified lab in Seatle. They found MRSA in three samples of ground pork, from three of the four states tested.
I have already heard people downplaying this by stating the obvious, that by cooking pork thoroughly the MRSA bacterium will die. The problem they aren’t seeing is that those who handle pork can pick up the virus and either become infected themselves through a cut or any opening in their skin, or transfer it to anything they touch after handling the pork.
The National Pork Board has begun some testing in retail markets and are finding the about the same results as The Problem Solvers in that about three percent of their tests are positive.
Although Canada and several European countries already test pork in grocery stores for MRSA the USDA has no plans for testing.
So we must look out for ourselves and just assume that our pork is carrying MRSA and use precautions when handling the raw product. Ideally, rubber gloves should be worn when handling raw pork, but at least make sure you have no cuts or scrapes on your hands and touch nothing but some good soap and warm water after touching raw pork! And of course, cook it thoroughly, not only to protect yourself from MRSA, but also from the still present threat of Tricinosis.