The poultry products available at the grocery stores may be contaminated with bacteria that cause urinary tract infection (UTI) in people, a new study suggests. The study was presented by Dr Reina Yamaji, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of California and the study co-author at an infectious disease conference in San Diego.
Yamaji and his team analyzed 200 samples of meat from the grocery stores in California, as well as 1000 urine samples from patients with UTIs for the presence of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. Majority strains of E.coli are harmless, but some cause diseases like UTI.
Bacterial DNA from meat and urine samples was analyzed for certain genetic “fingerprints” to determine the common E.coli strains in patients and meat samples.
Nearly a quarter of the poultry products were found to contain E.coli strains that were also found in the urine sample of the patients.
A hypothesis was formulated by the researchers that poultry products could cause UTI when people don’t properly cook or handle raw meat and thus contaminate their kitchen or other foods with E. coli. When this E. coli is passed in a person’s stool, and some of the faecal material enters a person’s urethra, it could cause UTI.
“E. coli bacteria cause about 80 percent of UTIs in people, but exactly where the harmful bacteria come from is not clear, said Yamaji.
“The findings suggest a food-borne source of urinary tract infection. But the researchers didn’t investigate about the dietary habits of the participants and analyzed E.coli genome partly. So, it’s difficult to trace the path of the bacteria from food to patients, and further research is needed to establish a causal relationship between E.coli in poultry products and UTI in people”, said another co-author Dr Cindy Friedman.