Submitted to: National Hog Farmer
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: November 16, 2005
Publication Date: December 15, 2005
Citation: Hill, D.E., Dubey, J.P. 2005. Prevalence of viable toxoplasma gondii in beef, chicken and pork from retail meat stores in the United States; risk assessment to consumers. National Hog Farmer. p. 24.
There are 3 major modes of transmission of T. gondii. Infection may occur by ingestion of food or water contaminated with oocysts excreted by infected cats, by congenital transmission from mother to fetus, or by ingesting uncooked meat containing tissue cysts of T. gondii. Recent reports suggest that the ingestion of improperly cooked meat containing viable T. gondii tissue cysts is a major source of infection for humans in the U.S. We have conducted a statistically valid study of the prevalence of T. gondii in beef, chicken, and pork from retail grocery stores in the United States. The prevalence of viable T. gondii was determined in 6,282 samples (2,094 each of beef, chicken, and pork) obtained from 698 retail meat stores from 28 major geographic areas of the United States. Each sample consisted of a minimum of 1 kg of meat purchased from the retail meat case. Overall, the prevalence of viable T. gondii in retail meat was very low. Nevertheless, consumers, especially pregnant women, should be aware that they can acquire T. gondii infection from ingestion of undercooked meat, and in particular, pork.