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Fresh Meat, Fresh Data

Posted to the homepage on January 20, 2012

On Aetiology, Tara C. Smith shares the results of her latest study into methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. She and her team “looked at not only conventional meats, but also ‘alternative’ meat products” labeled “raised without antibiotics” or “raised without antibiotic growth promotants.” Smith writes, “In our previous paper, we found MRSA on 1.2% of 165 meat samples. In the current study, we found a higher prevalence—6.6% of 395 samples were contaminated with MRSA.” She believes the current, higher number more accurately reflects the prevalence of MRSA in pork, due to a new sampling method (and not a rise in contamination). Overall, the study “didn’t find a statistically significant difference in MRSA prevalence on conventional versus alternative pork products,” and of the several strains isolated, “76.9% were resistant to two or more antibiotics and 38.5% were resistant to three or more antibiotics tested.” In short, make sure to cook your ham. Meanwhile, on Uncertain Principles, Chad Orzel explains how to visually present the kind of numerical data gathered in the MRSA study. Orzel asks, “Are you just comparing two numbers? Looking at how some property changes over time? Trying to characterize a distribution of numbers?” There’s a graphic for every scenario.