Sunday, April 17, 2011


The American Meat Institute (AMI) obviously didn't like that study I mentioned in yesterday's post - the one that found that about half of America's meat was carrying Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, and about half of those bacteria in U.S. meat and poultry were resistant to several groups of antibiotics. Bad news all round for the industry, and not the kind that gets you more meat eaters, or increases profits of meat producers.

Naturally, the AMI immediately tried to both discredit the study and to reassure consumers. They said that the sample size used in the research study was too small. I agree, it was small, but even if the numbers of bacteria are a bit lower, they are still pretty unpleasant. To comfort its meat-eating public, the AMI said not to worry, because while the Staph bacteria that the study found were antibiotic-resistant, they were not heat-resistant, and could be killed by cooking your lunch or dinner to an appropriate temperature. Several other news releases on the topic have more or less said the same thing: "cook your meat well and you have nothing to worry about."

Not true. Let me explain why. Staphylococcus aureus can enter open wounds (even cuts so tiny that they are invisible) of people preparing the meat and cause dangerous infections - especially if the staph is one of the MRSA kind(the most antibiotic resistant, which two of my friends are struggling with).

As for staphylococcus food poisoning, some news for you people at AFI - and you should have known this: It is not the bacteria themselves that cause the illness. It is the enterotoxins they produce (including Staphylococcal enterotoxin A,B,C,D, and E). These toxins are fairly heat and freezing resistant. They can survive in your frozen burgers for as long as a year (if you keep them that long, which I wouldn't advise). As for being inactivated during cooking - the bacteria can be killed, but these toxins can survive and still make you ill after several minutes of cooking your meat at high temperatures.

So why isn't Staphylococcus aureus a more common cause of food poisoning?

Read the next post.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What's going on here? The FDA and the USDA are screwing up on their existing budgets, so what will it be like after the Republicans further cut their budgets.