Uncooked Meat Sold for Human and Animal Consumption Contains Bacteria Resistant to Critically Important Antibiotics

A new study presented at the ESCMID Global Congress in Barcelona, Spain, has uncovered substantial levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in uncooked meat sold for human and animal consumption in the UK. The findings highlight the importance of proper hygiene practices when handling raw meat and raise concerns about the potential spread of resistant pathogens from pets to their human owners.

Resistance to Critically Important Antibiotics

Researchers from the University of Bristol analyzed 58 samples of uncooked meat, including beef, chicken, lamb, and pork, as well as 15 samples of chicken-based raw dog food. They found the highest sample-level positivity rate for resistant E. coli in chicken, with 100% of samples positive for resistance to spectinomycin and streptomycin, and 47% positive for resistance to critically important fluoroquinolones.

Similar levels of resistance were observed in chicken raw dog food samples, with 87% positive for spectinomycin and streptomycin resistance, and 47% for fluoroquinolones. The authors noted that while most people are aware of the risk of food poisoning from improper hygiene when handling uncooked meat, they may not realize that they can also pick up antibiotic-resistant opportunistic pathogens.

Raw Dog Food and Resistant Bacteria

The study also sheds light on the connection between feeding dogs a diet of uncooked meat and an increased risk of excreting E. coli resistant to critically important antibiotics in their feces. The most common E. coli strains found in raw dog food were strongly associated with dogs being fed a raw food diet in the authors’ previous study on fluoroquinolone resistance in dogs.

The authors emphasize the importance of appropriate hygiene practices after handling raw dog food and dogs that are fed such raw meat. They warn that if ingested, these resistant bacteria can enter the gut and may cause resistant opportunistic infections, such as urinary tract infections, in the future.

Dr. Jordan Sealey, one of the study’s authors, states, “Owners who feed their dogs raw dog food perhaps don’t realise this uncooked meat also contains these pathogens and maybe don’t use proper hygiene after preparing the meat, and don’t consider their dog as a potential source of these pathogens if it is raw fed.”

The findings underscore the need for thorough cooking of meat before consumption and the use of appropriate hygiene practices during meat preparation. The study confirms that uncooked meat carries multiple resistant E. coli, including resistance to critically important antibiotics for human health, and highlights the potential risks associated with feeding pets a raw food diet.

Keyword/phrase: antibiotic-resistant bacteria in uncooked meat

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