In February of this year, The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System evaluated samples of meat from supermarkets and found varying levels of potentially deadly bacteria, E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter (1).
What’s worse is that many of these bacteria were antibiotic-resistant strains, indicating that these bacteria were present as a result of antibiotic use in the meat industry. Antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria are especially dangerous to humans because, if infected, these bacteria will be unaffected by conventional antibiotic therapies.
These findings were released in a report sponsored by the Food and Drug Administration, The Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Agriculture, but got little attention until the Environmental Workers Group did a more thorough analysis of these findings. They found that:
1. 53% of raw chicken samples were contaminated with antibiotic-resistant E. coli.
2. Salmonella was also common on the meat samples.
3. Of all the salmonella found on the chicken samples, some 74% were antibiotic-resistant.
4. 26% of the chicken tested positive for resistant Campylobacter.
Lead EWG author Dawn Undurraga said, “Not all of the salmonella or E. coli that makes us sick is coming from meat, but a large portion of it is coming from the meat.”*
Mike Alpley, a veterinarian at Kansas State University who specializes in cattle raised in feedlots, has frequently defended the livestock industry’s use of antibiotics for disease prevention and treatment. But he agrees that the new data suggests that the appearance of drug-resistant strains of harmful bacteria in meat is a problem*.
Make sure you are buying all of your meat, fish and chicken from sources who guarantee that antibiotics were not used.