Disturbing trend: Antiobiotic resistant bacteria found widely in U.S. poultry and meat.

staph bacteria

An alarming study reveals high levels of drug resistant Staph bacteria in meat and poultry sold in U.S. grocery stores.

The Study, conducted by TGen, tested 80 brands of meat and poultry, collecting 136 samples from five cities. Forty-seven percent of the samples tested contained high levels of Staph and 52% of this bacteria proved resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics. DNA testing suggests that the drug resistant bacteria came directly from the animals.

“The fact that drug-resistant S. aureus was so prevalent, and likely came from the food animals themselves, is troubling, and demands attention to how antibiotics are used in food-animal production today," Dr. Price said.

Why do these animals contain large amounts of drug resistant bacteria?

“Densely-stocked industrial farms, where food animals are steadily fed low doses of antibiotics, are ideal breeding grounds for drug-resistant bacteria that move from animals to humans, the report says,” (Eurekalert press release, April 15, 2011).

Properly cooking meat and poultry should kill the Staph bacteria, but cross contamination and improper food handling pose consistent threats to our health.

Doctors warn that resistance to antibiotics is a serious problem, as these are the most useful drugs we have to fight Staph infections.

"For the first time, we know how much of our meat and poultry is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Staph, and it is substantial," said Lance B. Price, Ph.D., senior author of the study and Director of TGen's Center for Food Microbiology and Environmental Health.

Drug resistant bacteria is one of the many negative impacts that factory farming has on our personal and global health. To learn more, look to Savor, pages 50-51.

The United Nations report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, asserts that livestock’s negative effect on our environment is massive and that we need to address it with urgency.

Eating less meat, and a more plant-based diet, is one step in the right direction toward alleviating this worrisome problem.

Please join us in a brainstorm: what can we do (as a sangha and as individuals) to discourage factory farming?

Photo from the Center for Disease Control's Public Health Image Library