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MRSA Not Foodborne Pathogen

27 August 2013

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

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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