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In the Netherlands, meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is detected on pork and veal farms, and hence farmers working with MRSA-positive animals are at an increased risk of being colonised. Recently retail meat products have been found positive for MRSA. Therefore, we tested the prevalence of MRSA among employees who work in the cold meat processing industry and in institutional kitchens. Nasal swabs and samples from the employees' hands as well as the handled meat were tested quantitatively and qualitatively for the presence of MRSA. Typical colonies were confirmed by PCR and typed using multi-locus sequence typing and spa-typing. All samples taken from 95 employees tested negative for MRSA, but 31 carried MSSA. From meat, five of 35 samples were positive for MRSA, containing between 0.01 and more than 10 bacteria per gram. The risk for professionals of MRSA colonisation from handling raw meat was therefore low in our setting, suggesting that the general population is at an even lower risk of being infected through meat handling. .


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