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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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CVM Releases 2003 NARMS Retail Meat Annual Report

FDA Veterinarian Newsletter July/August 2005 Volume XX, No IV

The Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has recently published its 2003 National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) Retail Meat Annual Report, which reports on the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance among zoonotic foodborne -bacteria.

According to the report, which was posted on CVM’s website (http://www.fda.gov/cvm/coversheet2003.htm) September 30, the goal of the retail meat surveillance program is to determine the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance among foodborne bacteria that are pathogenic to humans, and among commensal organisms, which are not pathogenic to humans, but can pass resistance traits to bacteria that are. In particular, the survey looked for resistance in Salmonella, Campylobacter, Enterococcus and E. coli.

The NARMS retail meat surveillance program is a collaboration that includes the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and 10 participating FoodNet laboratories in the United States.

FoodNet is a component of the CDC’s Emerging Infections Program, which CDC created as an active surveillance program to help public health officials understand the epidemiology of foodborne diseases in the United States.

The report states that retail meats are a point of potential bacterial exposure to consumers, and are therefore of public health importance. The information generated from the retail meat program will be compared with data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the CDC components of NARMS to ascertain the prevalence of Salmonella sero-types and the antimicrobial resistant patterns of the four bacterial species throughout the food production -environment.

The data from the retail meat program will establish a “reference point” to allow scientists to analyze trends of antimicrobial susceptibility and resistance phenotypes among foodborne human pathogens and selected -commensal bacteria in meats commercially available to the U. S. consumer.

During 2003, eight CDC FoodNet laboratories collected samples for the NARMS Retail Meat surveillance program (California, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Tennessee). Staff from the participating FoodNet sites visited at least five grocery stores per month, purchasing 40 samples of fresh meat, which included 10 samples each of chicken breast, ground turkey, ground beef, and pork chops (the exception being Connecticut, which collected only five samples each for 2003).

All eight FoodNet sites cultured the meats and poultry for the presence of Salmonella and Campylobacter. Additionally, the Georgia, Maryland, Oregon, and Tennessee laboratories cultured meat and poultry for the presence of E. coli and Enterococcus. Once isolated and identified, bacterial isolates were sent to FDA’s CVM Office of Research for further characterization including species confirmation, antimicrobial susceptibility testing, and genetic fingerprinting through pulsed-field gel electrophoresis analysis (Salmonella and Campylobacter only).

The NARMS retail meat component began in 2002 and is the newest addition to the NARMS program. There are currently 10 FoodNet sites participating in the collection and analysis of retail meat samples. This has increased the number of retail meats examined and number of bacterial isolates recovered. The 2004 annual report is currently being developed and should be available in early 2006.