More than half of U.S. meat is contaminated
April 15, 2011 (WPVI) -- You might think twice next time you go to the grocery store for some hamburgers and chicken wings.Researchers who tested samples of meat and poultry from all over the country, found that nearly half were contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.
Over half of those tainted samples were found to contain strains that were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics, according to a study published today in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
The authors report that this was the first nationwide assessment to look at drug-resistant S. aureus contamination in the food supply.
With proper cooking, the S. aureus bacteria should be killed. However, there is still risk of infection with improper food handling and cross-contamination in the kitchen. Thus, everyone should thoroughly wash their hands after touching raw meat and poultry products.
Researchers analyzed 136 samples from many different brands of beef, chicken, pork and turkey. Samples were collected in 5 major U.S. cities: Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Flagstaff and Fort Lauderdale.
DNA testing of the bacteria showed that it came from the animals themselves, and the contamination did not occur during the course of food processing.
Industrial farmers commonly feed stock animals low doses of antibiotics to try to prevent infection. However, this daily antibiotic regimen is likely creating a breeding ground for multi-drug resistant bacteria.
This discovery of widespread contamination of the meat and poultry supply led researchers to suggest that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) should develop a more comprehensive inspection program.
S. aureus can cause a range of illnesses from minor skin infections to more serious infections of the lungs, bone, and heart.
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