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MRSA uptick

(article, Kim Carlson)

In two must-read columns published over the last several days, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times has turned his attention to MRSA infections. 

In the first column, Kristof introduces the acronym MRSA, which stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and suggests that these staph infections thrive in pig CAFOs. Kristof also discusses the alarming possibility that MRSA may be passed from pigs to humans. MRSA infections are increasing in this country; last year, more people died in the U.S. from MRSA than from AIDS. 

In the second column, Kristof scolds agribusiness for using antibiotics in healthy animals, just to be able to keep the animals in cramped, unsanitary, and unhealthy conditions. Writes Kristof:

bq. Public-health experts worry that pigs could pass on the infection by direct contact with their handlers, through their wastes leaking into groundwater (one study has already found antibiotic-resistant bacteria entering ground water from hog farms), or through their meat, though there has been no proven case of someone getting it from eating pork. Thorough cooking will kill the bacteria, but people often use the same knife to cut raw meat and then to chop vegetables. Or they plop a pork chop on a plate, cook it, and then contaminate it by putting it back on the original plate.

Suggestions for all who eat pork: 

 Be scrupulous in thoroughly cooking the meat.
 Don't cross-contaminate by using unwashed cutting boards, knives, or plates.
 When at all possible, eat pork from growers who don't feed healthy pigs antibiotics.
 Write or call your congressional representatives, asking them to support legislation banning the use of antibiotics in healthy animals.