Archive - November 2011

MMMHop

What Hanson Brothers Look Like Now

The rumor mill is buzzing about Zac, Isaac and Taylor. Sure, they grew up to be quite handsome Hansons, but that’s not it. Word is that now that they are old enough to drink, they’re launching Hanson Beer aptly named MMMHop. In early 2012 we should expect an IPA (to match the color of their hair).

Hopefully for them it will be as catchy (but less wonder-bready) than their former hit).

Eggs

Egg

I have a thing for eggs. For me they are pretty much the perfect food. They are packed full of protein, only have 70-80 calories per and are cheap. I make them all the time in all sorts of ways. They even come wrapped for easy transport. Simply the world’s perfect food.

Egg Composition

The shell of the egg enthralls me. It’s made of calcium carbonate which protects against microbes and keeps the moisture inside. If you’ve ever wondered about the color of the egg (some are white, brown and even blue) it depends on the breed of the hen. The shell really has no say when it comes to quality, taste or nutrition.

The yolk is my favorite part. Feared for its cholesterol levels, it should also be revered; for here is where the minerals, vitamins and fats lie. If it was not for the lecithin in the yolk, we’d have a much harder time making Hollandaise (lecithin works as an emulsifier).  The color of the yolk changes depending on the hen’s feed and it is said that color does not affect taste in any way; but I love nothing more than a bright sunny orange yolk.

Egg whites have their place as well. The albumen (it’s proper name)  carries more than 50% of the protein in the egg as well as Riboflavin. This is a great option for those who need to watch their cholesterol and still need to get their protein.

If you’ve ever been grossed our by those little squirmy looking chalazae chords; you need not be. You actually want to see them in the egg. These are not embryos. The more conspicuous the Chalzae is, the fresher your egg is. Leave them in since they do not affect the flavor or cooking of your egg in any way.

Storage

This is where I disagree with lots of people. It is said that eggs should be stored at below 45 degrees Fahrenheit and at 70 percent humidity. I’ve lived in other countries, traveled to lots of them and never seen them stored in a fridge. I keep my eggs away from the sun in the coolest place in my kitchen. They keep for about a week and I get better results when cooking. You can always test for freshness by placing the egg in water to see if it floats. If it does, the egg should be thrown out. Eggs will absorb smells, so keep them away from strong smelling foods.

Salmonella

We’re all afraid of salmonella. Salmonella is found in the intestinal tract of the chicken which somehow get on the shells of the eggs. This is where salmonella is transported (just as in the case with Wright County Egg). Even though egg farms and packing house wash eggs, bacteria can still remain. Do your best to prevent the shell from touching the actual egg to prevent contamination.

Nutrition

Eggs are fantastic. They contain vitamins A, D, E and K as well as B-complex vitamins. They also have lots of minerals and are not as high in cholesterol as people once thought.

Buying Eggs

I trust my local farmer and buy from her twice a week. She assures me that her chickens have true access to the outdoors where they can hunt for their own worms and grubs. She does not give them antibiotics and adheres to stricter than organic standards. She makes me happy. 

If you don’t have access to a farmer’s market where you can get to know your suppliers, go for organic. This will at least assure that you do not get eggs from chickens that were fed genetically modified corn. They will also not be exposed to artificial pesticides and given antibiotics. This means that your organic chickens lead a slightly better life, since they are not given antibiotics, they cannot be packed together too closely for fear of disease transmission. It also means that there will be less chance of said antibiotics entering your body and messing with your immune system.

Vegetarian feed has been used as a marketing term to tug at the heartstrings of consumers. Don’t be fooled; this means corn feed. Which also means no access to the outdoors, no grubs, no worms and most likely antibiotics.

Free Range is another term used to confuse shoppers. The United States Department of Agriculture says that free range chicken ”Producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside”. Did the chicken go outside? Could it get outside? Nah, it only has access.

Omega-3 and Born-3 eggs are more misleading marketing terms. Chickens are given supplements such as fish oil to boost the omega-3 content in eggs. Eggs from free-range hens have a naturally occurring level of Omega-3 due to the diet of natural vegetation and grubs and insects they consume (not vegetarian feed). If you want Omega-3′s stick to flax seeds and tofu.

Recipes

These are some of my favorite egg recipes. You will find some basics as well as some more complex recipes:

Scotch Eggs

Mock Eggs Benedict

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

Changua

Croque Madame

Spicy French Toast

Avgolemono

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Most Expensive Restaurants in Philadelphia

Union-Trust-Philadelphia

Philadelphia will always be the home to America’s most popular cheese steaks. But it isn’t only cheese steaks that are making waves in the city. Haute cuisine has infiltrated Philadelphia and in turn so have some pretty pricey restaurants. If you happen to hit the lotto, these are some restaurants you may want to celebrate at:

Vetri - 1312 Spruce Street  Philadelphia, PA

Chef Marc Vetri took over the townhouse that was once the home of the legendary Le Bec Fin and soon became lauded over his cuisine.  The restaurant is known for its handmade pastas and delicious sauces. Better make your reservations and get your wallet ready. Vetri only seats 20 and  a chef’s tasting menu costs $155 per person.

Executive Chef: Marc Vetri

Average Check Price: $250

Most Expensive Dish: Chef’s Tasting Menu

Price: $155

Hours of Operation:

Monday 6:00–9:30 pm
Tuesday 6:00–9:30 pm
Wednesday 6:00–9:30 pm
Thursday 6:00–9:30 pm
Friday 6:00–9:30 pm
Saturday 6:00–9:30 pm
Sunday Closed

Fountain Restaurant - 1 Logan Square  Philadelphia, PA

The views of the stunning bronzes of the Swann Memorial Fountain are priceless. They could be one of the reasons for this restaurant’s high price tags. The restaurant is known for its fresh seafood dishes, and outstanding game and beef, all with a focus on local and seasonal ingredients.

Executive Chef: Rafael Gonzalez

Average Check Price: $200

Most Expensive Dish: Chef’s Tasting Menu with Wine

Price: $190

Hours of Operation

Monday 6:30 am – 2:00 pm
Tuesday 6:30 am – 2:00 pm, 5:30–9:30 pm
Wednesday 6:30 am – 2:00 pm, 5:30–9:30 pm
Thursday 6:30 am – 2:00 pm, 5:30–9:30 pm
Friday 6:30 am – 2:00 pm, 5:30–9:30 pm
Saturday 5:30–9:30 pm
Sunday 6:30 am – 12:00 pm

10 Arts Bistro & Lounge - 10 Avenue of the Arts  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

10 Arts Chef de Cuisine Nathan Volz has created an American comfort cuisine that is not just comforting, but elegant. The restaurant is known for its hand-crafted cocktails, seasonal and local ingredients, and its gorgeous venue.

Executive Chef: Nathan Volz

Average Check Price: $190

Most Expensive Dish: Tasting Menu with Wine Pairing

Price: $95

Hours of Operation:

Mon: 6:30 am – 11:00 am, 11:30 am – 2:00 pm
Tue – Fri: 6:30 am – 2:00 pm, 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Sat: 7:00 am – 12:00 pm, 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Sun: 7:00 am – 12:00 pm

 

Lec Bec Fin - 1523 Walnut Street  Philadelphia, PA 

French Restaurant Le Bec-Fin lived in Philly from 1970 until 2013 when owner and founder Georges Perrier sold it to a former manager, Nicolas Fanucci who has since re-opened it. The restaurant was hailed as America’s finest French restaurant, and the Mobil Travel Guide habitually gave it five stars. It now offers  a four or eight course prix-fixe menu at dinner (three and five courses at lunch).

Executive Chef: Georges Perrier

Average Check Price: $250

Most Expensive Dish: Dinner Tasting

Price: $150

Hours of Operation:

Mon – Fri: 11:30 am – 2:00 pm, 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Sat: 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Amada - Chestnut Street  Philadelphia, PA 

James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic” Jose Garces brings a touch of Spain to Philadelphia at Amada. He utilizes avant-garde techniques to create dishes that are not only flavorful, but incredibly sophisticated.

Executive Chef: Jose Garces

Average Check Price: $105

Most Expensive Dish: Cochinillo Asado (whole)

Price: $450

Hours of Operation:

Monday 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:00–10:00 pm
Tuesday 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:00–10:00 pm
Wednesday 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:00–10:00 pm
Thursday 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:00–10:00 pm
Friday 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:00–11:00 pm
Saturday 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:00–11:00 pm
Sunday 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:00–10:00 pm

Morimoto - 723 Chestnut Street  Philadelphia, PA 

When you have Iron Chef Morimoto as the master behind the sushi table, you can expect to pay a bit more. Great fish, a gorgeous interior, and a price to match.

Executive Chef: Masaharu Morimoto

Average Check Price: $131

Most Expensive Dish: Morimoto Omakase

Price: $120

Hours of Operation

Monday 11:30 am – 2:00 pm, 5:00–10:00 pm
Tuesday 11:30 am – 2:00 pm, 5:00–10:00 pm
Wednesday 11:30 am – 2:00 pm, 5:00–10:00 pm
Thursday 11:30 am – 2:00 pm, 5:00–10:00 pm
Friday 11:30 am – 2:00 pm, 5:00 pm – 12:00 am
Saturday 5:00 pm – 12:00 am
Sunday 5:00–10:00 pm

Barclay Prime - 237 South 18th Street  Philadelphia, PA

Got an expense account and a client to impress? This luxury boutique steakhouse is the spot. On a serious note, they make some insanely delicious steaks.

Executive Chef: James LoCascio

Average Check Price: $140

Most Expensive Dish: Wagyu Ribeye & Foie Gras Cheesesteak

Price: $100

Hours of Operation

Monday 5:00–10:00 pm
Tuesday 5:00–10:00 pm
Wednesday 5:00–10:00 pm
Thursday 5:00–10:00 pm
Friday 5:00–11:00 pm
Saturday 5:00–11:00 pm
Sunday 5:00–10:00 pm

Talula’s Table - 102 West State Street  Kennett Square, PA 

A menu that changes daily, dishes made in small batches using only the highest quality local, natural, and exotic ingredients. They say you get what you pay for, and what you get here is quality.

Executive Chef: Chris D’Ambro

Average Check Price: $140

Most Expensive Dish: Eight-Course Chef’s Tasting Menu

Price: $105

Hours of Operation

Monday 5:00–10:00 pm
Tuesday 5:00–10:00 pm
Wednesday 5:00–10:00 pm
Thursday 5:00–10:00 pm
Friday 5:00–11:00 pm
Saturday 5:00–11:00 pm
Sunday 5:00–10:00 pm

Osteria - 640 North Broad Street  Philadelphia, PA

Mark Vetri must know what he is doing, because along with Chef Jeffrey Michaud, they’ve managed to win James Beard Awards and made Osteria one of PA’s most loved restaurant.

Executive Chef: Jeffrey Michaud

Average Check Price: $110

Most Expensive Dish: Creekstone Farm Dry-Aged Ribeye

Price: $50

Hours of Operation

Monday 5:00–10:00 pm
Tuesday 5:00–10:00 pm
Wednesday 5:00–10:00 pm
Thursday 11:30 am – 10:00 pm
Friday 11:30 am – 11:00 pm
Saturday 5:00–11:00 pm
Sunday 5:00–10:00 pm

Union Trust - 717 Chestnut Street  Philadelphia, PA – Closed

This was one of Philadelphia’s most expensive restaurants, but it did not make it through. They sadly declared bankruptcy. Maybe they’ll come back…but then again…

Executive Chef: Quincy Logan

Average Check Price: $162

Most Expensive Dish: Shellfish Ultimate Tower

Price: $95

WTO Prohibits Country-Of-Origin Food Labeling in U.S.

WTO-Global-Injustice

Diligently reporting on issues surrounding food safety, Food Safety News reports that the World Trade Organization has struck down country-of-origin labeling (also known as COOL) for world food products in the U.S.

In November, the World Trade Organization ruled that country-of-origin labeling, included as law in the 2008 Farm Bill, is a technical barrier to free trade and therefore violates trade agreements the United States has with other countries including Mexico and Canada.

Food Safety News notes that when country-of-origin labeling became American law, both Canada and then Mexico complained to the WTO, claiming country-of-origin labeling discouraged imports of their foods.

As a result, COOL slowly worked its way through the WTO appeal process of naming hearing panels and filing various written and oral arguments.

The final judgment from the World Trade Organization is that country-of-origin labeling is a “technical barrier to trade,” a provision the U.S. agreed to when signing a treaty preventing technical barriers to trade in 1979.

In a statement, the U.S. Trade Representative said the White House office was happy meat was an exception from the decision.

“We are pleased that the panel affirmed the right of the United States to require country of origin labeling for meat products,” said Andrea Mead, press secretary for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

“Although the panel disagreed with the specifics of how the United States designed those requirements, we remain committed to providing consumers with accurate and relevant information with respect to the origin of meat products that they buy at the retail level. In that regard we are considering all options, including appealing the panel’s decision.”

The U.S. has 60 days to appeal. And while the U.S. could ignore the WTO decision, Canada and Mexico could ask for tariffs to offset their losses.

Although meat will still be listed by country-of-origin, all other food products will not, such as honey, which is especially troubling considering that more than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t real honey, most of which is from China.

Ultra filtering, which completely removes pollen and can only be achieved with that process, is a variation of a technique refined by the Chinese, who have for years illegally unloaded tons of their honey on the U.S. market, some of which contains illegal antibiotics.

The contents of pollen in honey is the only fail-safe method of identifying the honey’s source, and is the only reason why the pollen is removed. Food scientists and honey specialists agree pollen is the only foolproof fingerprint to a honey’s source.

“It’s no secret to anyone in the business that the only reason all the pollen is filtered out is to hide where it initially came from and the fact is that in almost all cases, that is China,” said Adee.

Gaia Health notes that if you’d like to know that the honey on a supermarket shelf did not come from China where much of it is often contaminated with lead, and antibiotics, “well, that’s just too bad. You don’t have a right to know.”

The WTO Undermines National Sovereignty

The World Trade Organization’s ruling should acutely alarm Americans for a variety of reasons. First of all, the WTO is not a democratic institution, and yet its policies not only supersede American law (like the 2008 Farm Bill mandating Country-Of-Origin Food Labeling), but the laws of all sovereign countries who are WTO members [see map].

The World Trade Organization was established in 1995 following the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) negotiations. The WTO then transformed into a new global commerce agency with the same legal status as the United Nations.

As Gaia Health astutely points out: The real [WTO] purpose is to make the world safe for multinational corporations, who now have control over virtually every aspect of our lives by promoting and instituting treaties that are implemented via the WTO and the United Nations.

“Most food is now produced or distributed through multinational corporations. Because of regulations being brought into effect now at the behest of multinational corporations through their agents, the WTO and UN, along with the governments of nations that are now wholly owned by corporate money, our right even to know what’s in our food or where it comes from has been destroyed.”

Third World Traveler, a website with an archive of articles and book excerpts about American democracy, media, and foreign policy, explains further:

“The WTO is empowered to enforce global commerce rules with the imposition of economic sanctions. The WTO’s rules cover food and environmental standards, regulation of services such as insurance and transport, how the government can use tax dollars, copyright and patent law, farm policy, and more.

“The WTO expands key aspects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), to the entire world. Like NAFTA, the WTO vests panels staffed by trade bureaucrats with the power to enforce its binding rules. And like NAFTA, WTO rules may challenge a country’s laws if they pose barriers to trade and investment.

“The WTO’s tribunals conduct WTO challenge cases in secret. Even briefs from the public are only accepted by WTO panels if endorsed by a government. Furthermore, only national governments are allowed to participate, so a state attorney general could only assist with defense of a challenge against a state law, if invited to do so.”

The Most Expensive Restaurants in San Antonio

Crumpet's Restaurant and Bakery

San Antonio’s culinary scene has blossomed into more than just simple Tex-Mex. Restaurants have re-branded themselves as haute cuisine. These places can be a little pricey, but at quite a few of them, the food is worth the money. Swooping into grandeur are San Antonio’s most expensive restaurants:

Biga On the Banks - 203 South St Marys Street, San Antonio, TX

Executive Chef: Bruce Auden

Average Check Price: $80

Most Expensive Dish: Griddled 13oz beef tenderloin (menu changes daily)

Price: $32 (average)

Las Canarias - 112 College Street, San Antonio, TX

Executive Chef: John Brand

Average Check Price: $120

Most Expensive Dish: Chateaubriand of Beef Tenderloin

Price: $85

Palm Restaurant - 225 East Houston Street  San Antonio, TX

Executive Chef: Alejandro Zapien

Average Check Price: $139

Most Expensive Dish: Prime Double Cut New York Strip 36oz.

Price: $94

Paloma Blanca - 5800 Broadway St # 300  San Antonio, TX

Executive Chef: Jose Dimas Reyes

Average Check Price: $110

Most Expensive Dish: Carne Asada Tampiquena

Price: $24.50

Silo Elevated Cuisine - 434 N SL, 1604 W, San Antonio, TX

Executive Chef: Gary Boatman

Average Check Price: $128

Most Expensive Dish: Prime Centercut Ribeye

Price: $44

Zuni Grill –  223 Losoya Street  San Antonio, TX

Executive Chef: Ed Edbert

Average Check Price: $115

Most Expensive Dish: Ahi Tuna

Price: $28.95

Crumpet’s Restaurant and Bakery - 3920 Harry Wurzbach Road  San Antonio, TX

Executive Chef: Francois Maeder

Average Check Price: $105

Most Expensive Dish: Trilogy Entree

Price: $44.50

Antler’s Lodge - 9800 Hyatt Resort Drive, San Antonio, TX

Executive Chef: Troy Knapp

Average Check Price: $120

Most Expensive Dish: Bone-in Ribeye 16 oz.

Price: $41

DNA Barcoding to Certify Seafood in Fight Against Labeling Fraud

DNA-certified-Seafood

In October, the Food and Drug Administration officially approved DNA barcoding that can identify a fish species to prevent the mislabeling of local and imported seafood in the United States.

An expert in genetic identification claims restaurants around the world will soon use new DNA technology to guarantee customers are being served the same authentic fish they ordered from the menu instead of a substandard imitation.

So for instance, Yellowtail will no longer be able to be substituted for mahi-mahi; Nile perch won’t be labeled as shark, and restaurants won’t be able to claim that catfish is grouper.

Labeling fraud of commercial seafood is rampant. As much as 20 to 25 percent of seafood is fraudulently labeled in North America and Europe. And since approximately 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is now imported, rates of fraud in some species can run as high as 70 percent.

The most extensive fraud involves the substitution of the far-less expensive fish tilapia with red snapper as well as the mislabeling of Asian Catfish as grouper.

In 2008, a couple of enterprising teenagers collected 56 fish samples in stores and restaurants in New York City, and sent the samples in to the University of Guelph in Canada to be identified. Of the 56 samples identified by DNA barcoding, 14 were mislabeled. In all cases the fish were labeled as a more expensive fish.

In essence, the entire seafood industry is more or less involved in a massive cover-up involving fraud, deception, mislabeling and substitution, and the deception extends to restaurants, retailers and cabal of sushi fish suppliers.

David Schindel, a Smithsonian Institution paleontologist and executive secretary of the Washington-based Consortium called the Barcode of Life, began discussions with the restaurant industry and seafood suppliers about implementing the barcode technology as a way of certifying the authenticity of “delicacies”.

“When they sell something that’s really expensive, they want the consumer to believe that they’re getting what they’re paying for,” says Schindel.

“We’re going to start seeing a self-regulating movement by the high-end trade embracing barcoding as a mark of quality,” he said.

While it would never be economically viable to DNA test every fish, it would be possible to test a sample of several fish from a trawler load, he said.

DNA bar coding identifies gene sequences in the fish’s flesh. “The genetics have been revolutionary,” said Stefano Mariani, a marine researcher at University College Dublin.

“The DNA bar coding technique is now routine, like processing blood or urine. And we should be doing frequent, random spot checks on seafood like we do on athletes.”

The FDA has reportedly purchased gene sequencing equipment for five field laboratories. This new type of testing could allow hundreds of thousands of samples to be tested each year, instead of only hundreds.

One in Four Mississippians on Food Stamps

Bp-Oil-Spill-In-Gulf

According to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a new all time record number of Americans, close to 46 million, or 15 percent of the population relies on food stamps to survive.

NPR notes that Mississippi leads the U.S. in reliance on food stamps. Twenty-four percent of the population in Mississippi receives food stamps, or put another way, the state is feeding one Mississippian in four. That is the highest percentage of any state in the country.

Ironically, NPR also notes that in Mississippi, 7 of 10 adults in the state are either overweight or obese. NPR’s Debbie Elliott adds that roughly 1 in 3 adult Americans is now obese. And ground zero for the nation’s obesity battle is Mississippi.

Elliott claims “the problem is most pronounced in the Mississippi Delta — the flat, fertile flood plain fed by the Mississippi River. It’s a region with a history as rich as the soil, but with deeply rooted social problems.”

Mississippi Rep. Steve Holland (D) told NPR: “We have a culture of easy living, good eating with fatback and lard and things like that. We like to sit on our porch, and we like our adult beverages, we like our fellowship and that kind of thing,” Holland says. “And when you put all that together over generations, you’ve got a bad health problem.”

John Davis, director of the SNAP program in Mississippi, told NPR the economic downturn is a contributing factor to the increase in the state’s food stamp participation. “And we know that from a historical standpoint anytime there is a decrease in the job availability, there’s going to be an increase in our program.”

Davis says a family of four in the program receives about $668 a month in food assistance, or roughly $150 a week, but notes “this program is a supplemental program. It was never intended to fully fund the families in need for food.”

The SNAP program may never have been intended to fully fund families in need of food, but that is precisely what the program does, and is doing — especially in view of the economic devastation in Mississippi caused by the BP oil spill.

Families were forced to go on food stamps as a result of the damage that the BP oil spill had on the fishing and tourism industries. “We track those numbers and we find that there was an increase based on the oil spill,” Davis says.

Davis said his staff did outreach along the coast, and found industries that were either closed or went into hibernation. “Therefore, it was just a ripple effect. If the fishermen weren’t fishing, then there were other industries affected as well.”

New Study: Drug-Resistant MRSA Found Again in U.S. Meat

Methicillin-resistant-Staphylococcus-Aureus-(MRSA)-Bacteria

The antibiotic-resistant staph infection known as MRSA — methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — kills more Americans than AIDS, and is widespread in the U.S. pig herd.

According to veteran food writer Tom Philpott, until the 1980s, MRSA infections were mainly limited to people who spent time in hospitals and nursing homes.

In the 1990s, MSRA cases began surfacing in the general population at about the same time the pork industry began escalating the factory production of hogs, forcing them into more compressed spaces (known as concentrated-animal feedlot operation or CAFO) while pumping them with massive doses of antibiotics.

The Canadian pork industry, also an adherent of the CAFO model, including the reliance on antibiotics, exported some 762 million pounds of pork into the U.S. annually.

In 2008, a Canadian researcher found MRSA in 10 percent of 212 samples of pork chops and ground pork bought in four Canadian provinces.

Philpott claims the Canadian researcher delivered his findings at a Center for Disease Control confab, which garnered no response from U.S. regulatory officials. According to Post-Intelligencer reporter Andrew Schneider, in 2008, the USDA, responsible for the safety of imported food, wasn’t testing for MRSA.

Schneider noted that even in light of the Canadian findings, the FDA failed to begin testing U.S. pork. However, in 2008, Philpott claims a researcher at the University of Iowa decided to do what U.S. authorities avoided: they tested U.S. CAFO-grown pigs for MRSA.

Assistant professor of epidemiology Tara Smith and her team of graduate students swabbed the noses of 209 pigs from 10 farms in Iowa and Illinois. They found MRSA in 70 percent of the porkers, and the results were the first-ever publicly released test of U.S. hogs for MRSA.

Philpott adds Smith and her researchers also tested 20 workers on Iowa hog farms. Nine of them carried the same MRSA strain as the pigs. And MRSA is contagious, meaning it can move from workers to their families and broader communities.

“The main possible concern is that people could get MRSA on their hands from raw pork, then touch their nose. The nose is the prime site for MRSA to live,” said one researcher.

And according to a Canadian researcher, “MRSA could also be in beef, chicken and lamb, but no one is checking.”

MRSA Found in U.S. Meat in Two New Studies

This month, Wired’s Maryn McKenna reports on two new studies out that confirm drug-resistant staph or MRSA is showing up in animals and in the meat those animals become. The pathogen was found in studies from May and this one from April.

April Study Results:

We collected and tested a total of 136 meat and poultry samples from 5 US cities, encompassing 80 unique brands from 26 grocery stores. S. aureus contamination was most common among turkey samples (77%; 20/26), followed by pork (42%; 11/ 26), chicken (41%; 19/46), and beef (37%; 14/38). A subset of meat and poultry samples (10%; 14/136) was contaminated by multiple unique S. aureus strains as determined by MLST and susceptibility profiles, and a total of 79 unique isolates were used in subsequent analyses.

Ninety-six percent of the S. aureus isolates were resistant to at least 1 antimicrobial. Thirty-two unique susceptibility profiles were identified among the S. aureus isolates, with many resistant to multiple clinically important antimicrobial classes (Figure 1). Resistance (intermediate and complete) to tetracycline, ampicillin, penicillin, and erythromycin was highly prevalent, but resistance to other important antimicrobials was also observed, including quinupristin/dalfopristin, fluoroquinolones, oxacillin, daptomycin, and vancomycin (Figure 1).

Multidrug resistance, defined as intermediate or complete resistance to 3 or more antimicrobial classes, was common among the S. aureus isolates (52%) and most prevalent among S. aureus isolates from turkey (79%; 22/28), followed by those from pork (64%; 7/11), beef (35%; 6/17), and chicken (26%; 6/23).

Fifteen unique MLST sequence types were identified among the S. aureus isolates, but 2 sequence types—ST5 and ST398— dominated the collection due to their high prevalence among chicken (74%) and turkey (79%) samples (Figure 2). The most common sequence types among beef and pork samples were ST1159 (29%) and ST1 (55%), respectively. The 3 MRSA isolates belonged to sequence types ST8 (beef and turkey) and ST5 (pork).

May Study Results:

During the trial, 380 isolates were submitted to CVM, of which 311 were confirmed as S. aureus. Of the 311 confirmed isolates, 32 (10%) contained mecA and were considered MRSA. Most of the isolates were SCCmec type VI (44%, 14/32). Furthermore, 38% (12/32) of MRSA were positive for PVL. By commodity, pork chops showed the highest prevalence of MRSA (44%, 14/32), followed by ground turkey (28%, 9/32). Ground beef and chicken breast were 16% (5/32) and 9% (3/32), respectively.

Resistant to Tetracycline

McKenna points out that Smith and the University of Iowa team found all of the staph found in pork and turkey was tetracycline-resistant even when it was not MRSA.

Six of the seven staph-containing turkey samples were t034, and one was t337, which is associated with another MRSA strain that has emerged in pigs in China. “This suggests that turkeys, in addition to pigs, are a possible reservoir for both the ST398 and ST9 strains in the United States.”

McKenna explains that one of the hallmarks of ST398 has been that, unlike human-associated MRSA strains, it is resistant to tetracycline, “and while human MRSA is multi-drug resistant, it is usually still susceptible to tetracycline, because tetracycline is not used in human MRSA infections and thus the bug has no exposure that encourages it to evolve resistance.”

However, McKenna says tetracycline is very commonly given to animals raised for meat in confined conditions, which is presumably where ST398 worked up or picked up its tetracycline-resistance gene.

Researchers at the University of Maryland and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration tested 694 samples of ground beef, ground pork and ground turkey bought in the Washington, D.C., area. Twenty-nine percent were staph; 17 percent each of the pork and turkey harbored MRSA.

The resistance profiles indicate that when tested for susceptibility to 22 antimicrobials, 69 percent of the S. aureus isolates were resistant to tetracycline.

Twenty-six percent were resistant to penicillin, 17 percent to ampicillin, 13 percent to methicillin, 8 percent to erythromycin, 4.5 percent to clindamycin, 1.5 percent to gentamicin, and 0.5% to chloramphenicol, oxacillin, cefoxitin, or quinupristin-dalfopristin.

Nothing is Being Done to Address MRSA Problem

McKenna warns that despite the consistent presence of resistant staph, MRSA, and ST398 showing up in U.S. food products, nothing is being done to determine where and how often these resistant strains emerge.

A Government Accountability Report that was released in September to almost no notice chides the federal health and food agencies for doing virtually nothing despite earlier GAO warnings in 2004.