Over two thirds of raw pork products sold in US supermarkets contain a dangerous bacteria that can lead to illness, a study has claimed.
The report found that a large proportion of pork products harbour bacteria – but the prevalence of yersinia enterocolitica is the most striking finding.
The food-borne pathogen was discovered in 69 per cent of all raw meat sampled in the study, carried out by Consumer Reports.
More well-known bacteria were significantly less prevalent in the study. Salmonella was found in only four per cent of products, while three per cent of meat samples tested positive for listeria.
Eleven percent of samples, most of which were taken from popular supermarkets, contained the enterococcus bacteria and seven percent contained staphylococcus aureus bacteria.
Yersinia enterocolitica affects more than 100,000 Americans every year, many of whom are children, and can induce fever, cramps and diarrhea.
The bacteria though is relatively unheard of and for every diagnosis it is estimated that 120 cases go undetected.
The study sampled a range of commonly consumed products, made up of 148 pork chops and 50 ground pork samples.
The ground pork samples proved more likely to carry bacteria than the chop samples.
Urvashi Rangan, who helped compile the report, described the results as ‘concerning’.
He told ABCNews: ‘It’s hard to say that there was no problem. It shows that there needs to be better hygiene at animal plants. Yersinia wasn’t even being monitored for.’
He emphasised the importance of cooking raw meat properly to kill bacteria, adding: ‘Anything that touches raw meat should go into the dishwasher before touching anything else.’
The study also found that many of the pathogens found were resistant to at least one form of antibiotic.
Critics argue that the use of therapeutic antibiotics in livestock increases the levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the environment.
The Pork Producer’s Council however questioned the validity of the study given the sample size used.
It said that the 198 samples did ‘not provide a nationally informative estimate of the true prevalence of the cited bacteria on meat’.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said: ‘USDA will remain vigilant against emerging and evolving threats to the safety of America’s supply of meat, poultry and processed egg products, and we will continue to work with the industry to ensure companies are following food safety procedures in addition to looking for new ways to strengthen the protection of public health.’