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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Meat Safety and Quality » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #374289

Research Project: Mitigation Approaches for Foodborne Pathogens in Cattle and Swine for Use During Production and Processing

Location: Meat Safety and Quality

Title: A comparative quantitative assessment of human exposure to various antimicrobial-resistant bacteria among U.S. ground beef consumers

item ZHANG, YANGJUNNA - University Of Nebraska
item Schmidt, John
item Arthur, Terrance
item Wheeler, Tommy
item WANG, BING - University Of Nebraska

Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/2/2020
Publication Date: 5/1/2021
Citation: Zhang, Y., Schmidt, J.W., Arthur, T.M., Wheeler, T.L., Wang, B. 2021. A comparative quantitative assessment of human exposure to various antimicrobial-resistant bacteria among U.S. ground beef consumers. Journal of Food Protection. 84(5):736-759.

Interpretive Summary: Ground beef with “raised without antibiotics” claims are theorized to reduce consumer exposure to antibiotic resistant bacteria relative to “conventional” products with no label claims regarding antibiotic use during production. These theories were addressed by performing a retail-to-fork quantitative exposure assessment for 8 different antibiotic resistant bacteria. The study found that typical consumer ground beef handling and cooking practices resulted in probabilities of ingestion of antibiotic resistant bacteria less than 1.7%. Substitution of raised without antibiotics ground beef had a negligible effect on reducing antibiotic resistant bacteria exposure compared to proper employment of recommended safe cooking and food preparation practices.

Technical Abstract: Consumption of animal-derived meat products is suspected as an important exposure route to antimicrobial resistance, as the presence of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria (ARB) along the beef supply chain is well documented. A retail-to-fork quantitative exposure assessment was established to compare consumers’ exposure to various ARB due to the consumption of ground beef with and without “raised without antibiotics” claims and to inform potential exposure mitigation strategies related to consumer practices. The microbial agents evaluated included Escherichia coli, tetracycline-resistant (TETr) E. coli, thirdgeneration cephalosporin-resistant E. coli, Salmonella enterica, TETr S. enterica, third-generation cephalosporin-resistant S. enterica, nalidixic acid–resistant S. enterica, Enterococcus spp., TETr Enterococcus spp., erythromycin-resistant Enterococcus spp., Staphylococcus aureus, and methicillin-resistant S. aureus. The final model outputs were the probability of exposure to at least 0 to 6 log CFU microorganisms per serving of ground beef at the time of consumption. It was estimated that tetracycline resistance was more prevalent in ground beef compared with other types of esistance, among which the predicted average probability of ingesting TETr Enterococcus was highest (6.2% of ingesting at least 0 log CFU per serving), followed by TETr E. coli (3.1%) and TETr Salmonella (0.0001%), given common product purchase preferences and preparation behaviors among beef consumers in the United States. The effectiveness of consumer-related interventions was estimated by simulating the differences in exposure as a result of changes in consumer practices in purchasing, handling, and preparing ground beef. The results indicated that proper use of recommended safe cooking and food preparation practices mitigates ARB exposure more effectively than choosing raised without antibiotics compared with conventional beef.