BACKGROUND: During food animal production, animals are exposed to, colonized by, and sometimes infected with bacteria that may contaminate animal products with susceptible and multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO). The United States’ Organic Foods Production Act resulted in decreased antibiotic use in some animal production operations. Some studies have reported that decreased antibiotic use is associated with reduced MDRO on meat. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to investigate associations of meat production and processing methods with MDRO and overall bacterial contamination of retail meats. METHODS: Bacterial contamination data from 2012 to 2017 for chicken breast, ground beef, ground turkey, and pork chops were downloaded from the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System. Poisson regression models with robust variance were used to estimate associations with MDRO contamination and any contamination (adjusted for year and meat type) overall, and according to bacteria genus (Salmonella, Campylobacter, Enterococcus, Escherichia coli) and meat type. RESULTS: A total of 39,349 retail meat samples were linked to 216 conventional, 123 split (conventional and organic), and three organic processing facilities. MDRO contamination was similar in conventionally produced meats processed at split vs. conventional facilities but was significantly lower in organically produced meats processed at split facilities [adjusted prevalance ratio (aPR) =0:43; 95% CI: 0.30, 0.63]. Meat processed by split vs. conventional processors had higher or similar MDRO contamination for all tested bacterial genera except Campylobacter (aPR = 0:29; 95% CI: 0.13, 0.64). The prevalence of any contamination was lower in samples processed at split vs. conventional facilities for aggregated samples (aPR = 0:70; 95% CI: 0.68, 0.73) and all meat types and bacterial genera. DISCUSSION: Organically produced and processed retail meat samples had a significantly lower prevalence of MDRO than conventionally produced and processed samples had, whereas meat from split processors had a lower prevalence of any contamination than samples from conventional processors had. Additional studies are needed to confirm findings and clarify specific production and processing practices that might explain them.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis