The Killer In The Meat Case

Are you as tired as we are of hearing about all that’s wrong with our food? As we pointed out, it seems like every week there’s another recall of food contaminated with something, often deadly bacteria. The news is not improving.

They say “forewarned is forearmed.” Knowing that beasties lurk in your food should encourage you to take appropriate precautions. You should be surprised and repulsed by a recent study from the Translational Genomics Research Institute. They found nearly one-fourth of all the meat and poultry in your supermarket’s meat case is contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria. That means should you get sick, doctors will have a very hard time to get you well and it could put your life in danger. This is a direct result of factory farming and the massive amount of antibiotics being added to animal feed. Because of the overcrowded conditions at these kinds of farms, antibiotics are given not to cure illness, but to prevent it. Those drugs are in the meat and now they’re getting into us.

“‘For the first time, we know how much of our meat and poultry is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Staph, and it is substantial,’ Lance B. Price, senior author of the study and director of TGen’s Center for Food Microbiology and Environmental Health, said in a statement.”

Cooking does kill the bacteria, but its presence increases the danger of contamination and food poisoning. Not only is staph more widely spread than we thought, but so are e. coli, salmonella, listeria and aureus. That last one is also drug-resistant, but is not part of the government’s inspection program.

So, what can you do? Make sure you know and practice safe food handling guidelines. Cook meat and poultry to a temperature of at least 160ยบ and use a thermometer. Eat less meat and more vegetables. Don’t ignore symptoms of food-based illness. Be extra careful with food for children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

And you can lobby your government representatives to strictly regulate livestock and poultry, which uses 80% of all antibiotics sold in this country. Make sure that there are not only tough rules, but that regulators have the tools to enforce them.