The SGH Department of Microbiology blogger has just uploaded a paper to biorXiv describing our little hobby project with staff and students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Out of 10 beef (Australia, NZ and Brazil) and 20 pork (Australia, Indonesia, Brazil, Malaysia) samples from various local supermarkets, one MRSA (from a hunk of pork shoulder ostensibly from Australia) and 5 different extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae (from 1 beef and 4 pork samples – mostly from Australia) were isolated. The MRSA was not the usual livestock-associated MRSA – molecular typing revealed it to be ST3533-MRSA-IV, which is more closely related to human strains of MRSA. It could represent human contamination of the meat, since we only bought the pork from the supermarket (after considering processing). Similarly, we could not be certain that the ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae originated from the animal/farms without further extensive testing, but this certainly represents a possible way for antibiotic resistant determinants to be transmitted to humans.

What is interesting is that this paper is on a preprint server (available for access, but not peer-reviewed), which now represents a faster way of getting out the scientific work to the community. The students from Ngee Ann did this work last year (2016). We do have one more paper on antibiotic resistance in retail chicken meat (where Ngee Ann students did the work in 2015) that has gone through the more conventional academic peer-review/publishing route. The results of the 2015 work are therefore still not publicly available.