Pigs, farmers, and MRSA

Factory farms mean flourishing bacteria

February 5, 2009

You’ve probably heard, over the past couple of years, about outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant staph infections in hospitals around the U.S. One of the causes of the problem — a bacteria named methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, for short — is the fact that factory farms routinely dose their animals with antibiotics to keep them from falling ill in dirty, confined conditions. The overuse of antibiotics to prevent disease instead of to treat it has encouraged the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. We eat those antibiotic-laden animals, and become drug-resistant ourselves. And then we get sick, and the drugs don’t make us better.

Now comes word that MRSA has been detected on factory farms themselves — in particular, on pig farms in the Midwest. Eat pork from these farms, in other words, and not only are you eating antibiotics, but you may be eating lethal bacteria as well. And as reported by the intrepid Andrew Schneider at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the word was out about this problem last summer — but nothing was done about it.

Related article: MRSA uptick

There are 3 comments on this item
Add a comment
1. by anonymous on Feb 5, 2009 at 11:35 AM PST

Actually the coverage of MRSA in pigs, pig farmers and pig meat goes back much further than last summer: to last spring and the previous winter. Credit where due.

2. by Caroline Cummins on Feb 5, 2009 at 12:22 PM PST

Sure, but both of these news stories are about MRSA being detected on farms in Canada. What’s new here, apparently, is that MRSA has moved south of the border.

3. by Hank Sawtelle on Mar 10, 2009 at 10:18 AM PDT

This is very, very bad.

Add a comment

Think before you type

Culinate welcomes comments that are on-topic, clean, and courteous. For the benefit of the community we reserve the right to delete comments that contain advertising, personal attacks, profanity, or which are thinly disguised attempts to promote another website.

Please enter your comment

Format: Bare URLs are automatically linked; use this style: [http://www.example.com "place text to be linked here"] for prettier links. You may specify *bold* or _italic_ text. No HTML please.

Please identify yourself

Not a member? Sign up!

Please prove that you’re not a computer

Dinner Guest

The gamification of cooking

Earning points

Most of the time with cooking and eating, the rules are clear.

Graze: Bites from the Site
First Person

The secret sharer

A father’s legacy

The Culinate Interview

Mollie Katzen

The vegetarian-cooking pioneer


Down South

Barbecue, tamales, cocktails, and more

Local Flavors

A winter romesco sauce

Good on everything

Editor’s Choice