Sunday, April 17, 2011

Is Your Meat Contaminated?

Drug resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus have been found in the meat and poultry of U.S. grocery stores at incredibly high rates. S. aureus is a bacteria known for causing a wide variety of human diseases. Although proper cooking of contaminated meats usually kills the bacteria, there are big issues with cross-contamination.

47% of all meat and poultry sampled were contaminated with S. aureus, and 52% were resistant to three or more antibiotics. Researchers analyzed over 80 brands of meat in 26 grocery stores.

"For the first time, we know how much of our meat and poultry is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Staph, and is is substantial," said Lance B. Price, Ph.D., senior author of the study and Director of TGen's Center for Food Microbiology and Environmental Health.

On densely-stocked industrial farms, animals are steadily fed low doses of antibiotics make for ideal breeding ground for the bacteria to grow. Even though the U.S. government routinely checks for contamination of our foods, S. aureus is not one of the bacteria they inspect for. S. aureus can cause minor skin infections to life-threatening disease.

"Antibiotics are the most important drugs that we have to treat Staph infections; but when Staph are resistant to three, four, five, or even nine different antibiotics--like we saw in this study--that leaves physicians few options," Dr. Price said.

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