Header graphic for print
Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

40 Percent of Grocery Store Meat Sampled has Superbug Clostridium difficile (C. diff)

According to press reports this morning, an Arizona researcher found 40 percent of meat products tested from three national chain stores were contaminated with bacteria normally associated with severe hospital infections. Federal health officials, however, say more study is needed to determine whether C. diff is transmitted through food. A potentially deadly intestinal germ increasingly found in hospitals is also showing up in a more unsavory setting: grocery store meats. More than 40 percent of packaged meats sampled from three Arizona chain stores tested positive for Clostridium difficile, a gut bug known as C. diff., according to newly complete analysis of 2006 data collected by a University of Arizona scientist. Nearly 30 percent of the contaminated samples of ground beef, pork and turkey and ready-to-eat meats like summer sausage were identical or closely related to a super-toxic strain of C. diff blamed for growing rates of illness and death in the U.S. — raising the possibility that the bacterial infections may be transmitted through food.

According to Wikipedia, Clostridium difficile is a species of Gram-positive bacteria of the genus Clostridium. Clostridia are anaerobic, spore-forming rods (bacillus). C. difficile is the most significant cause of pseudomembranous colitis. It is a severe infection of the colon, often happening after normal gut flora is eradicated by use of antibiotics. The C. difficile bacteria, which naturally reside in the body, become overgrown: the overgrowth is harmful because the bacterium releases toxins that can cause bloating, constipation, and diarrhea with abdominal pain which may become severe. The latent symptoms often mimic some flu-like symptoms. Treatment is performed by stopping current treatment and commencing specific anticlostridial antibiotics, e.g. metronidazole or vancomycin.

  • Nicole

    This is extremely interesting to me right now. You may think I am crazy, but I think this may explain what just happened to my German Shepard. I am serious. I feed him a raw and home cooked diet balanced properly for canine health. Two weeks ago I bought ground turkey which was half price at the supermarket. I cooked it. According to the article you posted cooking does not kill this bug. I didn’t eat it because I don’t eat ground meat of any kind. I gave him three meals of the turkey and by the third meal he became acutely ill. He had extreme abdominal pain to the point of whining and dogs don’t typically show that they are ill. So crying means there is a serious problem. He had bloody globs of stomach membrane in his watery stool (pseudomembranous colitis), fever and vomiting. An emergency vet visit and $700 later, the diagnosis was simply a colitis attack. He has never ever had this problem. I never feed him ground meat but did this time because it was such a good sale and I figured if I cooked it would be fine. It started at 4am the evening he had the third meal of the ground turkey. The vet prescribed the metronidazole but it is not approved for use in dogs (vets use in anyway) and the potential side effects are so hideous in dogs I did not give it. 10 days later, he is improved. Isn’t that interesting? We couldn’t figure out why the heck this happened and now I think it was the bacteria in the ground turkey referenced in your article.

  • http://fanaticcook.blogspot.com/ Bix

    Once again … holy cow!

  • susan pierce

    I’ve had Crohns disease since age 19. I obstructed & nearly died. That is how I found out I had it. It was so advanced, I needed surgery – 18″ small bowel resected. Flare-ups over the years, but always got better. Then C-Diff got me last Oct. & I nearly died from it! Three weeks in hospital & so many Dr.’s – I didn’t think I’d ever get better. Here I am, 7 months later & still moving at a snail’s pace, so to speak! I’m 60 years old now – a “young 60″, HaHa. I hope never to encounter anything like C-Diff again, & I hope no one else ever gets it! You may not live to tell! It’s a wicked bacteria! Having Crohns makes me susceptible to a lot of things because I have a “lousy” immune system. I’ve been very careful over the years, but never saw C-Diff coming. Until I got it, my husband & I had never even heard of it! It was a close call, but just not my time to die. I give God the glory & Thank Him for the gifted people involved in saving my life! Stay well out there! :)