What’s for dinner? Superbugs?

By on April 22, 2013

A high percentage of meat sold in U.S. grocery stores is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria according to a report published in February by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) using data from the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS). The Federal Drug Administration, US Department of Agriculture and the Center for Disease Control manage NARMS. The EWG found that antibiotic-resistant bacteria was in 81% of raw ground turkey, 69% of raw pork chops, 55% of raw ground beef and 39% of raw chicken parts purchased in stores in 2011. The EWG warned that the organisms can cause food borne illnesses and other infections and can spread antibiotic resistance, which could make important medicines ineffective for treatment.

EWG say that the increase in superbugs is directly related to the increased use of antibiotics by factory farms. The livestock industry routinely administer animals with pharmaceuticals, which account for 80% of antibiotic sales in the U.S., to promote faster growth and prevent infections in the often unsanitary and crowded environments. Consumers should be aware of the high amount of antibiotics that the animals they eat ingest. Unfortunately, even meat that is labeled to make consumers believe it is “all natural” or “grass fed” may still be given antibiotics or contain antibiotic resistant superbugs, which may put their own health at risk.