I want to share with you this important article about our meat supply published by the Environmental Working Group. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Environmental Working Group, or EWG, they are the leading environmental health research and watchdog organization. Their mission is to “see that Americans get straight facts, unfiltered and unspun, so they can make healthier choices and enjoy a cleaner environment.” They offer extensive consumer guides to safe cosmetics, healthy cleaning products, pesticides in produce and safe sunscreens, to name a few.
Below is a portion of their report.
Superbugs Invade American Supermarkets
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are now common in the meat aisles of American supermarkets. These so-called superbugs can trigger foodborne illness and infections that are hard to treat.
An analysis by the Environmental Working Group has determined that government tests of raw supermarket meat published last February 5 detected antibiotic-resistant bacteria in:
These little-noticed tests, the most recent in a series conducted by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System, a joint project of the federal Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Agriculture, found that supermarket meat samples collected in 2011 harbored significant amounts of the superbug versions of salmonella and Campylobacter, which together cause 3.6 million cases of food poisoning a year.
Moreover, the researchers found that some 53 percent of raw chicken samples collected in 2011 were tainted with an antibiotic-resistant form of Escherichia coli, or E. coli, a microbe that normally inhabits feces. Certain strains of E. coli can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections and pneumonia. The extent of antibiotic-resistant E. coli on chicken is alarming because bacteria readily share antibiotic-resistance genes.
Not surprisingly, superbugs spawned by antibiotic misuse — and now pervasive in the meat Americans buy — have become a direct source of foodborne illness. Even more ominously, antibiotic misuse threatens to make important antibiotics ineffective in treating human disease. In the past, people who became ill because of contact with harmful microbes on raw meat usually recovered quickly when treated with antibiotics. But today, the chances are increasing that a person can suffer serious illness, complications or death because of a bacterial infection that doctors must struggle to control.
The proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria poses special dangers to young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.
This is scary stuff! I’m not suggesting you have to become vegetarian to avoid these foodborne illnesses – after all vegetables can be contaminated too, especially when coming from long distances. (It is a good idea to go meatless a couple of days a week at least!) Instead, be a smart meat consumer and opt for organic or grass-fed, grass- finished meats. They are usually raised without unnecessary antibiotics and in a more humane and sanitary environment. Ask your butcher or supermarket how the meat was raised and buy local meat when you can. And always make sure you meat is cooked thoroughly.
Information compiled from ewg.org.