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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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2003 NARMS Retail Meat Annual Report - Introduction

Food destined for human consumption, including meat and poultry, are known to harbor enteric bacteria. Antimicrobial resistance (AR) among these foodborne bacteria has been documented and may be associated with the use of antimicrobial agents in food animals. These bacteria may include organisms such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, and Enterococcus. Retail meats represent a point of exposure close to the consumer and, when combined with data from slaughter plants and on-farm studies, provides insight into the prevalence of AR in foodborne pathogens originating from food producing animals. To gain a better understanding of AR among enteric bacteria in the food supply, FoodNet and the NARMS monitor antimicrobial susceptibility/resistance phenotypes in bacteria isolated from retail meats.

The primary purpose of the NARMS retail meat surveillance program is to determine the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance among foodborne pathogens and commensal organisms, in particular, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Enterococcus and E. coli, recovered from retail foods of animal origin. The results generated by the NARMS retail meat program will establish a reference point for analyzing trends of antimicrobial resistance among these foodborne bacteria. NARMS retail meat surveillance is an ongoing collaboration between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (Center for Veterinary Medicine), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and in 2003, eight of the 11 current FoodNet laboratories: California, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Tennessee.


2003 NARMS Retail Food FoodNet laboratories

FoodNet is the principal foodborne disease component of CDC's. It is a collaborative project of the CDC, eleven EIP sites (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, New York, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and New Mexico), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The project consists of active surveillance for foodborne diseases and related epidemiologic studies designed to help public health officials better understand the epidemiology of foodborne diseases in the United States. The NARMS/FoodNet Retail Food Study was developed to monitor the presence of AR among E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Enterococcus from convenience samples of fresh meat and poultry purchased monthly from grocery stores in the participating States. These isolates were then subjected to standardized antimicrobial susceptibility testing methods in order to determine the prevalence of resistance.

Retail meat sampling:
For calendar year 2003, retail meat sampling started in January among 8 participating FoodNet laboratories. Each of the FoodNet sites purchased samples monthly, attempting to go to as many different stores as possible each month. The object was to purchase as many different brands of fresh (not frozen) meat and poultry as possible. A total of 40 food samples were purchased per month including 10 samples each of chicken breast, ground turkey, ground beef, and pork chops (the exception being CT, which only collected 5 samples each for 2003). For each meat and poultry sample, the FoodNet sites recorded the store name, brand name, lot number (if available) sell-by date, purchase date and lab processing date on log sheets (A-9). Additional information with regard to whether or not the meat or poultry was ground or cut instore was also collected, if possible. Samples were kept cold during transport from the grocery store(s) to the laboratory.

Microbiological analysis:
In the laboratory, samples were refrigerated at 4°C and were processed no later than 96 hours after purchase. After microbiological examination, the sites recorded on the log sheets whether or not the meat and poultry samples were presumptively positive for Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, and Enterococcus. Each laboratory used essentially the same procedure for sample collection. Retail meat and poultry packages were kept intact until they were aseptically opened in the laboratory at the start of examination. For chicken and pork samples, one piece of meat was examined, whereas, 25 g of ground product was examined for ground beef and ground turkey samples. The analytical portions from each sample were placed in separate sterile plastic bags, 250 mL of buffered peptone water was added to each bag, and the bags were vigorously shaken. Fifty mL of the rinsate from each sample was transferred to separate sterile flasks (or other suitable sterile containers) for isolation and identification of Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, or Enterococcus using standard microbiological procedures. 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 PFGE analysis (Salmonella and Campylobacter only).

All eight FoodNet sites cultured the meats and poultry rinsates for the presence of Salmonella and Campylobacter. Additionally, four of the eight FoodNet laboratories culture meat and poultry rinsates for the presence of E. coli and Enterococcus: Georgia, Maryland, Oregon, and Tennessee.

NARMS retail meat working group, 2003

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Jason Abbott
Sherry Ayers
Dr. Mary Bartholomew
Sonya Bodeis-Jones
Peggy Carter
Patti Cullen
Linda English
Sharon Friedman
Althea Glenn
Dr. Elvira Hall-Robinson
Dr. Joshua Hayes
Dr. Marcia Headrick
Susannah Hubert
Stuart Gaines
Shawn McDermott
Dr. Patrick McDermott
David Melka
Dr. Terry Proescholdt
Sadaf Qaiyumi
Dr. Ruby Singh
Dr. Linda Tollefson
Dr. David Wagner
Dr. Antoinette Walker
Dr. Robert Walker
Dr. David White
Dr. Shaohua Zhao

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dr. Fred Angulo
Dr. Tom Chiller
Felicita Medalla
Lauren Stancik

NARMS FoodNet Retail Sites


Richard Alexander
Melody Hung-Fan
Maribel Rickard


James Benson
Paul Blake
Susan Lance-Parker
Bob Manning
Mahin Park


Robert Howard
Aristea Kinney
Mona Mandour
Ruthanne Marcus
Michael A. Pascucilla
Charlie Welles


Craig Braymen
Billie Juni
Ana Fe Leano
Kirk Smith
Narina Stepanova
Stephanie Wedel
Yang Xiong


Karen Cuenco
Jonigene Ruark
Mary Warren

New York

Gina Conenello
Lavin Joseph
Tim Root


Debbie Bergquist
Emilio DeBess
Eric Espinosa
Trisha Hannan
Helen Packett
Larry Stauffer
Ivor Thomas
Robert Vega
Veronica Williams


Allen Craig
Samir Hanna
Henrietta Hardin
Tim Jones
RuthAnn Spence


Much thanks to Deborah Brooks, Michelle Talley and Hung Dang for providing outstanding web support to the NARMS program.