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Ask Dr. Nandi: Superbugs seen in majority of supermarket meats

Posted at 10:05 AM, Jul 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-09 10:06:22-04

The Fourth of July is only a few days away, and families around the country, mine included, will be spending time outdoors and gathering around the barbecue. If you plan to grill up a burger or a steak this week, listen up. A recent report from a non-profit environmental research group shows that nearly 80 percent of the meat in U-S supermarkets contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This is a big potential health crisis. 

Why is antibiotic-resistant bacteria such a serious health concern?

These things are sometimes referred to as superbugs. They’re bacteria that have evolved to become untreatable with antibiotics. The rise of superbugs has created a situation where it’s becoming more difficult to treat infections in hospitals. Roughly two million people a year in the United States develop infections that are resistant to antibiotics. 

How do these superbugs find their way into our meat?

Lots of meat producers and factory farmers give antibiotics to their animals to keep them healthy, even when they're not sick. Currently, the U-S Food and Drug Administration allows this practice. But it's a problem because the overuse of antibiotics has caused some bacteria to adapt to these drugs that are supposed to kill them. 

How prevalent are these superbugs in our meat?

The report found that the majority of meat in supermarkets contained superbugs. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria were found on 79 percent of ground turkey samples…71 percent of pork chops…62 percent of ground beef…and 36 percent of chicken! So this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed by our regulatory agencies.