The Dutch food-safety authority found methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, on 8 percent of broiler farms in a survey.
The bacteria was found in chicks and stable dust, the authority wrote in a report on its website today. Infected animals can sometimes transmit the resistant bacteria to humans, according to the authority.
A strain of MRSA known as CC398 has been reported in livestock, most often in intensively raised pigs, veal calves and chickens, according to the European Food Safety Authority. People in contact with live animals are at greater risk of acquiring the strain, though infections are rare, the EFSA said.
“This mainly concerns the livestock-related variant of MRSA,” the Dutch food-safety authority wrote. “Additional measures are necessary to better protect those professional groups that are in contact with live broilers.”
MRSA infections are usually spread through contact with infected objects and surfaces and in the most severe cases can be life-threatening, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On broiler farms, 9 percent of breeders carried the bacteria, while for employees in slaughterhouses the rate can climb to 14 percent, according to the report.
The MRSA infection rate in slaughterhouses that gas broilers before slaughtering is four times smaller than in those using electric stunning in water baths, the food safety authority wrote. Gassed broilers move less, meaning fewer dust particles are released, reducing infection odds, it said.
The food safety authority advised slaughterers to use methods that involve animals moving as little as possible.
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