Pesticide- and antibiotic-free meat fetch premium prices, but a recent study has shown that there is still a prevalence of one of the world’s most dangerous drug-resistant microbe strains in retail pork products labeled as such.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is the drug-resistant variant of the harmless S. aureus bacterium and has killed 18,000 people in the USA every year. 76,000 more are sickened by it and most cases are linked to a hospital stay, where the combination of other sick people and surgical procedures puts these patients even more at risk.
They found that 64.8% of the samples were positive for staph bacteria and 6.6% were positive for MRSA. Rates of contamination were similar between conventional and antibiotic-free raised pigs.
The source of MRSA is difficult to find. Transmission of resistant bugs might occur between antibiotic-using and antibiotic-free operations, especially if they’re near each other. It could also come from the workers themselves.