Monday, April 18, 2011


So now we suspect that Staphyloccus aureus bacteria and their toxins could be hiding in half the beef, pork, chicken and turkey we eat in America (see earlier blogs). So why aren't meat eaters getting sick more often?

The U.S. federal authorities estimate that this bacteria is only responsible for about 3 percent of foodborne illness. The meat industry (represented by the American Meat Institute) naturally says it is even less - about 1 percent. (You can do a lot of creative stuff with statistics, and as always, you can find some study or other to back up your case).

In fact, at least a quarter of us walk around with Staph bacteria up our noses, in our mouth or on our skin. Mind you, it's more likely to be one of the less dangerous Staph like Staphylococcus albus, but Staphylococcus aureus is sometimes there too.

But what about this Staphylococcus aureus in meat and other foods you eat? Will it make you sick?

Whether you get sick or not, will depend on a number of factors, including: i) which type of toxins the Staph bacteria produce (see earlier post which explains that toxins are what make you ill - not the Staph bacteria themselves); ii) how much of these toxins you ingest; and iii) who you are.

First, not all Staph produce dangerous enterotoxins such as Staphylococcal enterotoxin Type A or B, and your body can cope with small amounts in your burger or fried chicken, if you don't eat too much (Yet another reason to cut back on the size of your meat portion!).

Finally, whether you get symptoms of food poisoning will depend on how susceptible you yourself are. As always, some people are more vulnerable than others - young children, older adults, people with serious illnesses. I also came across an interesting study of illnesses caused by Staph toxins which found that people under stress are more susceptible than normal.

So don't stress out too much about Staph in your meat. Often there won't be enough toxins to hurt you. Besides, any stress just could make you more susceptible!


No comments: