Occupational exposure to raw meat: A newly-recognized risk factor for Staphylococcus aureus nasal colonization amongst food handlers

J. Ho, Margaret May O'Donoghue, M. V. Boost

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Staphylococcus aureus contaminating raw meat may increase nasal colonization risk for occupationally-exposed food handlers. Food handlers from six catering establishments were nasally sampled for S. aureus and completed a questionnaire on carriage risk factors. Isolates were characterized for antibiotic susceptibility, spa type and, for methicillin-resistant strains, SCC. mec type. Of 434 food handlers, 99 (22.8%) were colonized with S. aureus. Five isolates were methicillin-resistant belonging to SCCmec IV (2) and V (3). Resistance to tetracycline (20%), and erythromycin (16%) was high, but <10% to other antibiotics. Spa typing revealed 17% of isolates as t189, with 8% each t127 and t1081. Food handlers ever handling raw meat had a significantly higher colonization risk (OR. = 2.7; 95% CI: 1.7-4.5), increasing to 3.7 (95% CI: 2.0-6.8) for those always exposed. This is the first report of increased colonization risk in food handlers exposed to raw meat. This occupational hazard may increase infection risk, so improved compliance with workplace hygiene may be required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-353
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014


  • Colonization
  • Food handler
  • Meat
  • Occupational risk
  • S. aureus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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