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.