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MRSA: Not a Foodborne Pathogen, Conclude Researchers

26 August 2013

UK - Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) should not be considered a food-borne pathogen, according to researchers following a literature review.

Based on published literature, while some sources of MRSA have been found in or on food intended for human consumption, researchers concluded that this bacterium should not be considered a food-borne pathogen.

That is the conclusion of Sarah Wendlandt from the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute in Germany and co-authors, Stefan Schwarz (MB Consult Limited, Southampton, UK) and Peter Silley (University of Bradford, UK) in a paper published in Annual Review of Food Science and Technology.

Prior to the 1990s, they report, most MRSA was hospital-associated (HA-MRSA); community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA) then began to cause infections outside the health-care environment. The third significant emergence of MRSA has been in livestock animals (livestock-associated MRSA; LA-MRSA).

The widespread and rapid growth in CA-MRSA and LA-MRSA has raised the question as to whether MRSA is indeed a food-borne pathogen.

The observations on animal-to-animal and animal-to-human transfer of LA-MRSA have prompted research examining the origin of LA-MRSA and its capacity to cause zoonotic disease in humans.

The review by Wendlandt and co-authors summarises the current knowledge about MRSA from food-producing animals and foods with respect to the role of these organisms to act as food-borne pathogens and considers the available tools to track the spread of these organisms.

The researchers conclude it is clear that LA-MRSA and CA-MRSA and even HA-MRSA can be present in/on food intended for human consumption but they conclude - on the basis of the published literature - that this does not equate to MRSA being considered a food-borne pathogen.


Wendlandt S., S. Schwarz and P. Silley. 2013. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus: a food-borne pathogen? Annual Review of Food Science and Technology. 4: 117-139. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-food-030212-182653

Further Reading

You can view the full report (fee payable) by clicking here.


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