Steak with a Side of Superbugs

A recent study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases reported wide contamination of meat with strains of drug-resistant bacteria. Nearly half of all meat and poultry sampled for the study contained drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus, the bacteria that commonly causes staph infections. The samples of beef, chicken, pork and turkey from 80 brands came from 26 grocery stores in five U.S. cities. Of the bacteria contained in the meat samples, 52 percent were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics, and DNA testing suggested that the animals from whom the meat was derived were the sources of contamination. Antibiotics are routinely given to promote growth and prevent disease in animals who are subjected to intensive confinement.

In related news, this past May consumer groups filed a federal lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration for failing to withdraw approval of penicillin and tetracycline use in animal feed when animal health is not at risk.