Study: Antibiotic-Resistant Staph Bacteria in 25 Percent of USA Meat

A study involving 136 meat samples from five US regions found:

Nearly half of the meat and poultry samples — 47 percent — were contaminated with S. aureus, and more than half of those bacteria — 52 percent — were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics, according to the study published today in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases

Where is the FDA in all this? Issuing mealy mouthed statements that the consequent public health risks aren’t yet known:

FDA has been monitoring the situation. The TGRI study points out that the public health relevance of the findings is unclear. FDA continues to work with CDC and USDA to better understand this issue.

Of course the precise public health consequences are not known, but that doesn’t keep what the study’s results from being terrifying. And if the FDA and USDA weren’t so beholden to industry, today’s report would be sufficient grounds to ban the use of antibiotics on factory farms for any animal who isn’t acutely ill.

In the meantime, here the advice that Lance Price, the study’s head researcher, offers to meat eaters:

This is one more reason to be very careful when you’re handling raw meat and poultry in the kitchen. You can cook away these bacteria. But the problem is when you bring in that raw product, you almost inevitably contaminate your kitchen with these bacteria.

And how many Americans do you suppose are capable of dealing with the cross-contamination issues that result by bringing meat into the kitchen? (Thanks Steve & Lorraine.) Reuters coverage. CBS coverage.