You might want to consider buying organic meat the next time you’re at the grocery store.
A new study from Consumer Reports found that superbugs are lurking in 57 per cent of the raw and uncooked samples of chicken they inspected, 83 per cent of the turkey and 14 per cent of the beef and shrimp. They’re called “superbugs” because they show a resistance to modern medicine, and they’re responsible for about 23,000 deaths across North America each year.
So how are they ending up in your meat?
Well, the same way they end up in humans. As scientists come up with new kinds of antibiotics to kill bacteria, that bacteria responds by mutating and becoming immune to the medicine. You can think of it as a perpetual arms race between the scientific powers of medicine and the evolutionary power of these microscopic organisms.
The reason they’re ending up in our meat is because animals raised on farms or factories are often given antibiotics. So it would appear that after all these years of pounding our livestock with pills, the bacteria we were successfully fighting has finally mutated.
“The overuse of antibiotics in farm animals along with the conditions that animals are raised creates an environment for resistance to develop and spread,” Dr. Urvashi Rangan, from Consumer Reports, said.
These superbugs can pose a threat to you in several ways. If you undercook your meat, or do not wash your hands properly after handling it, you could become infected. You should also take up the habit of sanitizing everything your meat touches. If some of it falls off of your cutting board and onto your counter, for example, you should wash your counter immediately. You can find guidelines for safe internal temperatures right here.
Additionally, you should probably write off eating raw meat altogether. In other words, no more carpaccio.
If the idea of superbugs living on your meat grosses you out altogether though, you can buy your meat organic to get around that. You can also look for labels with terms like “no antibiotics,” “no antibiotics ever,” or “never given antibiotics.” The term “natural” generally doesn’t mean anything, so steer clear of that.
Otherwise, you could always go vegetarian.
For more information on superbugs in your meat, check out the video above.