US Meat Is Teeming With Superbugs: Report

More than half of samples were contaminated: government study

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 17, 2013 8:15 AM CDT | Updated Apr 21, 2013 1:44 PM CDT

(Newser) Horse meat-tainted beef? We should be so lucky. US meat is rife with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or "superbugs," according to a government study released in February that's just now getting attention. The data hails from 2011, and is the result of testing on ground turkey, pork chops, ground beef, and chicken available at supermarkets; more than half of the samples taken were contaminated with superbugs like salmonella and E. coli. The New York Times reports that this represents a "sizable increase."

For example, of all salmonella found on raw chicken, 74% was resistant to antibiotics, while in 2002, less than 50% was. The findings are sure to increase the backlash against the use of antibiotics in animals raised for meat, but vets who work with the International Food Information Council (which gets money from major food companies) and the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (which gets money from veterinary pharmaceutical companies) say the report used small sample sizes and is misleading. Another disturbing finding: All in all, 87% of the meat tested contained some sort of fecal contamination, either normal or antibiotic-resistant.

This Jan. 18, 2010 file photo shows steaks and other beef products displayed for sale at a grocery store in McLean, Va.
This Jan. 18, 2010 file photo shows steaks and other beef products displayed for sale at a grocery store in McLean, Va.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file)
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