18 April 2011

Study finds one in four packages of meat contain drug resistant bacteria

We are all so used to meat and egg recalls that it doesn’t surprise us when it happens but what if I told you that 1 in 4 packages of meat contain drug-resistant bacteria that do more than just take up residency in our guts? That they also survive in our skin and other damp salty spots on our bodies, where they live indefinitely and without the host showing illness? Scary—but true.

Recent surveys conducted by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) show that retail meat and poultry are frequently contaminated with multidrug-resistant bacteria such as Campylobacter (causes abortion in animals and food poisoning in humans), Salmonella, and Enterococcus species (a streptococcus that causes inflammation and blood infection if introduced elsewhere from the intestine).

Sounds tasty, more of that, please!

The meat that was tested came from 26 retail grocery stores in 5 US cities: Chicago, Washington DC, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, and Flagstaff. Specimens included ground beef, ground turkey and turkey cutlets, chicken breast and thighs, and ground pork and pork chops. I should also note that these samples came from 80 unique brands.

The results? Gross. But in more detail, NARMS found that there was a prevalence of multidrug-resistance to clinically important antibiotics, with 96% of the samples containing Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) that were resistant to at least one antimicrobial. S. aureus was prevalent in turkey, followed by pork, chicken, then beef.

The lesson? Meat isn’t only murder, but it can also harm your family. Bringing contaminated meat into your home—and you won't know until it’s too late—means you risk infecting your loved ones, even if it is cooked through and through.

Kelly Beth | @veganbotanicals
Kelly Beth is a smiley vegan herbalist and wanderer, and currently resides in Boulder, Colorado with her fiancé and kitty (kitty face). She created twig & leaf botanicals, a vegan & organic herbal apothecary 3 years ago to bring healthy, plant-based alternatives to mainstream medicine and home care. Follow Kelly Beth on her blog and Facebook.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/dianeduane