Prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in a fresh meat pork production chain
The objective of this study was to investigate the prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus on different stages of a fresh pork production chain to reveal potential carryover from live animals to meat. Samples were collected at different stages of the production process in a large German abattoir with an integrated processing unit for fresh pork. Samples included nasal swabs from pigs at stunning, environmental samples from the slaughter line, surface samples from carcasses, environmental and meat samples from the processing unit, and samples from final products. Samples were analyzed with an established two-step selective enrichment method, and isolates were characterized with respect to their S. aureus protein A gene (spa) and staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec; which harbors the mecA gene) types. Contamination rate was highest (64.7%) in nasal swabs and lower (6.0%) on carcasses, meat at processing (4.2%), and final products (2.8%). Environmental samples were positive along the slaughter line (12%) but not in the processing unit. spa types t011 and t034 and SCCmec type V predominated the isolates. Heterogeneity of spa types was highest in nasal swabs. Results show that methicillin-resistant S. aureus can be identified at all stages of the production chain. Further studies are needed to identify potential control points to reduce the carryover from farm animals to the final products.