Risky Meat

Spoiler alert — this isn’t going to be appetizing. Consumer Reports released a study testing 257 samples of ground turkey from supermarkets and found that virtually every one was contaminated with either – get ready for it — fecal bacteria, staph or salmonella. What’s worse the fecal bacteria were resistant to one or more antibiotics important to human medicine. This just after the US government admitted a significant majority of supermarket meat is contaminated with antibiotic resistant bacteria.

If you missed the announcement its little wonder. It was buried in the FDA’s 2011 Retail Meat Report which reveals results from their periodic testing of common supermarket meat products for contamination and bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Thanks to the good works at Environmental Working Group, they crunched the numbers and came up with the results and they were disturbing enough to consider vegetarian options. Three of the superbugs listed can cause tens of thousands of illnesses and hundreds of deaths. While these reports are US centric, Canada doesn’t lag far behind. Last September we had the biggest beef recall in Canadian history.

Perhaps most disturbing fact is that the superbugs seem to be on the increase and the evidence points to the overuse of antibiotics in livestock operations.

In an attempt to give consumers some clarity around this issue, The Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) developed a useful guide for each category of meat purchased at the retail level. The study called Risky Meat ranks risky meats and poultry. Highest Rise is chicken and ground beef. High Rise goes to beef cuts, steak and turkey. Click for full report.