The Science has spoken. Nearly half of the meat and poultry (47 percent) sold is U.S. grocery stores is contaminated with staphylococcus aureus (“Staph”), a bacteria linked to a wide range of human diseases, and this bacteria is resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics in more than half (52 percent) of contaminated samples, according to a nationwide study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) published this week in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Researchers collected and analyzed 136 samples–covering 80 brands–of beef, chicken, pork and turkey from 26 retail grocery stores in five U.S. cities: Los Angeles, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Flagstaff and Washington, D.C.. DNA testing suggested that the food animals themselves were the major source of contamination. The study was funded through a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts as part of The Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming.
“The fact that drug-resistant S. aureus was so prevalent, and likely came from the food animals themselves, is troubling, and demands attention to how antibiotics are used in food-animal production today,” said Lance B. Price, Ph.D., senior author of the study and Director of TGen’s Center for Food Microbiology and Environmental Health [emphasis added].
Up to 70 percent of all antibiotics produced in the United States are used for ‘non-therapeutic’ purposes in industrial food animal production, according to The Union of Concerned Scientists, which defines ‘non-therapeutic’ as the use of antibiotics in the absence of diagnosed disease.