"Meat in the U.S. may be widely contaminated with strains of drug-resistant bacteria, researchers reported Friday after testing 136 samples of beef, chicken, pork and turkey purchased at grocery stores.
Nearly half of the samples — 47% — contained strains of Staphylococcus aureus, the type of bacteria that most commonly causes staph infections. Of those bacteria, 52% were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics, according to a study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
DNA testing suggested the animals were the source of contamination. Environmental health scientist Lance Price, the study's leader, said the animals most likely harbored these drug-resistant pathogens because antibiotics routinely are fed to livestock to promote growth and prevent disease in crowded pens on large farms.
"These findings really point to serious problems with the way food animals are raised in the U.S. today," said Price, who directs the Center for Food Microbiology and Environmental Health at the Translational Genomics Research Institute, a nonprofit biomedical research center in Phoenix."