Doctors familiar with the horrors of multidrug-resistant shigella must watch the food industry inch toward antibiotic-free meat with bated breath, because the problem of superbugs in America’s meat supply is reaching alarming levels. For anyone with doubts, here’s a new special report by Consumer Reports called “America’s Antibiotic Crisis.” In it, editors share a three-year-long investigation into the bacteria levels found in meat and poultry. Fair warning: It’s not awesome lunchtime reading material.
For the section “Our Flawed Food Supply,” the team tested hundreds of samples of four kinds of meat for bacterial contamination — beef, chicken, turkey, shrimp — and, sadly, they write, “We found superbugs in all of them.” (Not coincidentally, they add that the most recent FDA data show that antibiotic use in food animals is on the rise — more than 32 million pounds sold in 2013, “up 17 percent from just four years earlier.”) Notably, meat that was sustainably raised beat conventional meat, but not by that much. Here’s how each breaks down by the percent containing superbugs:
• Beef: 14 percent of total samples (18 percent of conventional samples, and 9 percent of sustainable samples).
• Chicken: 57 percent of total samples (59 percent of conventional samples, and 49 percent of sustainable samples).
• Shrimp: 14 percent of total samples (17 percent of conventional samples, and 3 percent of sustainable samples).
• Turkey: 83 percent of total samples (83 percent of conventional samples, and 80 percent of sustainable samples).
And on that note, it’s one week till Thanksgiving!