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Drug-Resistant Staph Spells Trouble For Meat Industry

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Drug-Resistant Staph Spells Trouble For Meat Industry

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.

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Laetitia Mailhes

Laetitia Mailhes is a French-born journalist. After many years as the technology and innovation correspondent of the French "Financial Times" in San Francisco, she decided to focus on what truly matters to her: sustainable food and farming. Find more articles and videos on her blog, The Green Plate Blog.

74 comments

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2:25PM PDT on Jul 5, 2011

We should stop passing legislation (like RFID tagging) that makes small farm husbandry too expensive. The unhealthy, unhappy condition of factory farms makes animals sick.

9:36PM PDT on Jun 23, 2011

scary

4:49PM PDT on May 23, 2011

Or, call it a wake up call!

9:35AM PDT on Apr 23, 2011

Most of my friends are well aware of the dangers of too many antibiotics being handed out, but that won't stop the Dr.s who do so. It will have to come from the regulating commissions, and the AMA itself.

3:26PM PDT on Apr 22, 2011

This is why I try not to eat too much meat, unless it is organic. I'm very much in touch with keeping my body as healthy as my children's bodies.

12:56PM PDT on Apr 21, 2011

Oh, my comment didn't post the whole thing.

(contintued)... into the sausage in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit. The routine slaughter of diseased animals, the use of chemicals such as borax and glycerine to disguise the smell of spoiled beef, the deliberate mislabeling of canned meat, the tendency of workers to urinate and defecate on the kill floor.

12:35PM PDT on Apr 21, 2011

Well said, Gerlinde, Olivia and Jorge.

5:57AM PDT on Apr 21, 2011

On the bright side, the world's due to end in Dec next year ...

6:37PM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

In a 1996 study, the FDA found that nearly 79 percent of ground beef is primarily spread through fecal matter. So pretty much, there’s shit in the meat. The problem of cattle spreading bacteria to humans is partly due to the conditions that cattle are raised. They live in close quarters where contagious infections multiply and they eat foods that make them unhealthy. Cows’ digestive systems are meant for grass but instead, cattle are often raised on corn and high-protein feeds made from rendered animals. Mad Cow Disease prompted a ban on feeding cattle dead cow remains, but the FDA still permits horse, poultry, and pig remains, as well as cow blood in cattle feed. The pathogens are also spread at slaughterhouses. If a worker carelessly removes the digestive systems from a cow carcass, manure and dirt can spill onto the meat. The workers are often poorly trained and under extreme time pressures, making mistakes more likely. Grinding the meat spreads the contamination from the meat of one cow to hundreds.
The waste products from poultry plants, including the sawdust and old newspapers used as litter, are also being fed to cattle. About 3 million pounds of chicken manure were fed to cattle in 1994. Chicken manure may contain dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella,parasites, tapeworms, etc.
Next, the meat is shoveled into carts, and some of the men who do the shoveling would not go through the trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one -there were things that went

7:19AM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

Well, I've read that most large farm facilities are feeding there stock their own waste mixed with feed now, to save money and decrease waste, I think you can find more info. on the Peta site. I don't eat meat and don't believe in over doing it with antibiotics either. Seems likely that if the animals are eating contaminated waste in the first place, that is where some problems are starting, as well as over crowded diseased facilities coupled by the anitbiotics.

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