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MRSA in sausages: getting to the meat of the matter

You might have seen in the news today that for the first time a strain of the antibiotic-resistant bacterium, MRSA, has been found in sausages and minced pork bought from supermarkets. So is this the first sign of a food safety crisis? Emphatically not, says our Head of Infections and Immunity, Dr Desmond Walsh, but it does show how critical it is to tackle the problem of antimicrobial resistance on all fronts.

Sausages on a barbeque

(Image: Steven Depolo on Flickr under CC BY 2.0)


Is MRSA running rampant in our meat products?

No, that’s not a conclusion that this study supports. The researchers, funded by the MRC and based at the University of Cambridge, bought and analysed a total of 103 pre-packaged fresh pork and chicken products from supermarkets in five different locations across in England. All the packages were labelled as coming from UK farms.

The researchers found that two of the pork samples – one from sausages, one from minced pork – tested positive for MRSA.

As the tests use a highly sensitive method of detection of bacterial contamination, the numbers of MRSA bacteria present may be low. We also don’t know that the MRSA contamination definitely came from UK meat, as there’s no guarantee that the meat packing plants that handled the meat don’t also handle imported meat. Read more

Working life: Olubukola ‘Bukky’ Idoko

Dr Olubukola Idoko is a clinical trial coordinator and paediatrician at MRC Unit, The Gambia. Here she tells us about a recent trial of a multi-dose pneumococcal disease vaccine, and why even the crazy hours are worthwhile.

Olubukola 'Bukky' Idoko 

Olubukola ‘Bukky’ Idoko

Throughout my medical training I always felt I wanted to do something with a focus on preventative medicine, impacting many people at once rather than individual patients every day. I realised this played an important role in solving health challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa.

After finishing my medical training at the Jos University Teaching Hospital in Nigeria, I did some research and found that The Gambia had done well with their immunisation programmes for a small West African country. This led me to MRC Unit, The Gambia in 2010 and I’ve been here ever since.
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Opinion: Going public with your research

The Open Science movement encourages scientists to make their materials, data and publications freely available for the good of everyone. Professor Marcus Munafò of the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol tells us why his group has begun to ‘go public’ with their research – and about some of the unexpected benefits that it can bring.

Marcus Munafò

Marcus Munafò (Image copyright MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol)

Adopting an Open Science approach has been a gradual thing for us. We thought it was the right thing to do because our work is publicly funded and therefore should be made widely available as soon as possible. Sharing data also means that science can, in principle, progress more efficiently, because you may not need to collect new data if you can answer a question by using information that’s already out there. Read more