A startling new report shows if you look for antibiotic-resistant bacteria in food, you will find it -- in ground turkey and ground beef, pork chops, and all cuts of chicken--breasts, wings and thighs.
The Environmental Working Group report on so-called superbugs relied on government testing data that is not publicized. Salmonella, campylobacter and E. coli cause some 3.6 million cases of food poisoning annually, and antibiotic-resistant versions are particularly worrisome because the most difficult cases -- typically children, pregnant women and the elderly -- cannot be treated effectively.
The report highlights pervasive environmental and health problems in so-called industrial agriculture. Livestock feed is often treated with antibiotics, not only to ward off disease, but to increase growth rates so that animals can be slaughtered for the meat market faster, boosting profits. Animals kept in tightly packed conditions, to maximize profit per square foot, increase the ease with which diseases spread, also prompting the use of antibiotics. As antibiotic use grows on farms, the drugs become less effective for humans, as the bacteria develop resistance.
Environmental Working Group's review of the federal data found antibiotic-resistant bacteria at the following rates:
Environmental Working Group recommends that consumers "assume that all meat is contaminated with disease-causing bacteria." The best way to avoid the risk is to eat less "factory farmed" meat, and buying USDA Organic or other antibiotic-free meats.
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