Friday, April 19, 2013
THERE ARE SUPERBUGS IN OUR MEAT
It is always nice to know you are right. But, there are times I wish I wasn't. When writing The Safe Food Handbook : How to Make Smart Choices about Risky Food, I tried to be ahead of the issues in food safety - not behind. It has been the same in this blog (as in the case of the Japan - Daichii nuclear tragedy leading to radiation in food, the case of "bird flu" which is once again an issue, and the Listeria bacteria threat in our food plants).
One of the issues I stressed was the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in our food - particularly in meat. This was several years ago. At that point it was an emerging and very frightening problem about which I was - and still am - particularly concerned. I also strongly oppose the U.S. practice of sub-therapeutic (preventive) use of antibiotics in industrialized livestock production for that reason, even though I am aware that it helps to keep our meat prices down.
Today, CNBC has an article by Mark Koba titled : Antibiotic-Resistant "Super-Bugs" Creep into Nation's Food Supply. This article seems to have been triggered by secondary analysis of data from the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System ( published in February) by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
The EWG concluded that that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are turning up very, very frequently in meat sold in the U.S. It was found in 81 percent of raw ground turkey, 69 percent of raw pork chops, 55 percent of raw ground beef and 39 percent of raw chicken bought over the counter in 2011. Even if this is an overestimation of our exposure in 2011, it is likely to be that much or even more in 2013. Our food regulators, and some of our politicians are aware of the problem, and trying to do something about it, but only small steps have been taken so far.
The data is scary, to say the least. If nothing else convinces you to give up eating meat, this well might. The CNBC on-line article quotes Lance B. Price, a professor of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University: "I think this is one of the greatest threats to us as a nation and the planet." I agree.
The Safe Food Handbook has more information on this food threat, particularly in the Meat and Poultry chapter, under the section "The Superbug Issue." Yes, I wish I wasn't right on this issue. But I was. I will also bet that we'll be hearing more about it in the future.
To your good health,