Staph seen in nearly half of U.S. meat
April 15th, 2011
10:00 AM ET
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Almost half of the meat and poultry sold at U.S. supermarkets and grocery stores contains a type of bacteria that is potentially harmful to humans, a new study estimates.

Researchers tested 136 packages of chicken, turkey, pork, and ground beef purchased at 26 grocery stores in five cities around the country, and found that 47 percent contained Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), a common cause of infection in people.

What's more, roughly half of the contaminated samples contained strains of the bacteria that were resistant to at least three antibiotics, such as penicillin and tetracycline. Some strains were resistant to a half dozen or more.

Get the rest of the story at CNN Health and read more about tainted food and recalled products

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Filed under: Health News • Meat • Recalls • Tainted Food


soundoff (769 Responses)
  1. Josphine Cusano

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    November 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Reply
  2. betcha

    No wonder it's antibiotic-resistant... they regularly pump the cows full of antibiotics.

    April 23, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Reply
  3. Truth, Temporary Bachelor

    I would suggest an immediate staph meeting with possible strep searches if needed.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  4. Jeff

    Should people become vegetarian?

    Check out the new website from ProCon.org with over 40 pro and con arguments about whether or not people should adopt a vegetarian diet.

    http://vegetarian.procon.org

    April 21, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Reply
  5. Skin Infection

    It can be helpful but I think to get cure from staph infection it is not compulsory to eat Chicken. There are lots of other ways to get cure.

    April 21, 2011 at 8:46 am | Reply
  6. techieg

    Where is the FDA? Are they sleeping along with the airport traffic controllers too? I thought polcing this industry to prevent such problems is what they were originally created for! Someone needs to answer to this lax culture in these government agencies.

    April 19, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  7. Roy Fischer

    Thirty percent of PEOPLE are carriers of Staphylococcus aureus. It's all around us. If you have ever had an infection with pus in it (like a pimple!) that was most likely Staph aureus. You can't escape this bug by avoiding meat.

    April 18, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Reply
  8. Silvermaven

    Wake up people. Don't you remember your lessons? We really believe when they slaughtered 200 million cattle in Europe to protect us from Protein disease that was the end of it? You are naive. Read about Secret Presidential Chemtrail Budget Uncovered, Congress Exceeds Billions To Spray Populous Like Roaches -LOL Just who OK'd spraying for bugs with these kinds of Manganese levels? Sorry folks we've been had once again...Stealth pathogens are loaded with Manganese which in this document is shown to be at over 500 part above toxic levels....The Manganese is what gives the stealth pathogen Borrelia its virulence factor...Manganese replaces copper in the cells to enable prions to become virulent. Yes people in the NE if your cattle die and your buffalo die are all the patients with "Syndromes" of unknown origin next? Isn't it time for the truth?

    April 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Reply
  9. Christine

    I have cut back in the past over concerns, but after reading this story I think I will cut it to almost none if not none. Guess I will become an accidental Vegan one day, I am allergic to dairy so with no meat that only leaves eggs. At that point maybe I won't bother.

    April 18, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Reply
  10. Yeah

    I worked on those cow lots that spread across the west, we would put so many cattle in a lot that the cows couldn't even move, would have to feed them from over head.....when cows can't move they won't eat, the antibiotics that is pumped in their food makes them hungry and they eat and yall can have yer big mac with a heart attack later on....

    hogs are raised in tower pens inside on concrete flows, they never see the sun....just one pen after another stacked on top of each other, all they do or can do is lay there...so more antibiotics to make them eat..

    Oh yeah..this organic crap is just that...they still pump them full antibiotics at last 6 weeks to make them eat more, while telling people it's for the cows own good,lol..and people buy this organic sh!t up like crazy while the sellers are laughing their a$$ off to the bank.....

    April 18, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Reply
  11. OrganicTrade

    Increasingly there have been concerns raised by researchers as well as legislators about the routine use of non-therapeutic levels of antibiotics by agriculture to foster growth of livestock. As a result, there has been growing interest in organic agriculture, which does not allow this practice.

    Choosing foods bearing the organic label is the only way consumers can be sure meats and dairy products they buy have been produced without the use of antibiotics.

    Organic practices recognize and respect the powerful nature of antibiotics. As a result, organic practices prohibit the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones or other animal drugs in animal feed for the purpose of stimulating the growth or production of livestock.

    Respected organizations such as the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization have recommended against the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in agriculture in order to protect public health. Those organizations point out that such uses of antibiotics in agriculture contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

    Most recently, the June 2009 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives included a focus article entitled “The Landscape of Antibiotic Resistance,” which referenced research showing that the practice of using antibiotics at sub-therapeutic levels in livestock feed and water has led to the persistence of these antibiotics in the environment and the possibility of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

    Up to 70 percent of all antibiotics produced in the United States are used for ‘non-therapeutic” purposes in industrial food animal production, according to The Union of Concerned Scientists, which defines ‘non-therapeutic’ as the use of antibiotics in the absence of diagnosed disease.

    Food animals on industrial farms often are routinely fed antibiotics in food and water to promote weight gain and feed efficiency, and to compensate for overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. This is not allowed in organic agriculture.

    Organic producers are required by the organic standards to provide living conditions and health care practices that help prevent illness and to promote health of the animals.

    In addition to prohibiting the use of antibiotics and synthetic growth hormones in organic livestock production, U.S. national organic standards require organic livestock to be fed 100 percent organic feed and given access to pasture and the outdoors. The standards prohibit the use of genetic engineering, toxic and persistent pesticides, and sewage sludge on fields. Organic operations are federally regulated, with third-party certification by a U.S. Department of Agriculture-accredited certifier.

    April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am | Reply
  12. Jorge

    Bacteria and meat are not necessarily a problem in and of themselves, but U.S. CAFO meat is the worse toxic crap a meat lover could EVER put in his body. Outside the U.S. I always ate range-fed beef, chicken or pork from Argentina, Costa Rica or Brazil that was finished on sugarcane harvest by-products and slaughtered in grass-roots houses, the stuff was awesome and inexpensive, really lean yet tender when properly cooked and you could really feel it crank you up when you exercised, ever since coming back to the states all the greasy, marbled meat that I eat sits like a rock in my gut and gives me heartburn, it also builds up in my joints and makes them hurt, especially in cold weather; when I go veggie and fish, it stops.

    April 18, 2011 at 10:02 am | Reply
  13. Alison

    Yes, bacteria is everywhere. BUT we should not be seeing this type of bacteria in our food. The worst part about this is that it is resistent to certain antibiotics. As a registered nurse I understand the importance of being able to utilize all of the antibiotic choices on hand. The fact that these meat industries are creating, "superbugs," is scary. People have and will be infected with these types of bacterias and doctors will have a difficult time trying to treat them. Eating meat is not worth thousands being killed each year over food poisoning. Before any of you say that this is not a big deal, do some research. Being vegan is the best thing I could do for myself and for the world I live in.

    April 18, 2011 at 9:40 am | Reply
    • What?

      You – and several others posting here – seem to be pushing the belief that every single one of these bacteria is drug resistant. That is not the case. "Some" of the strains that were found were drug resistant, but the majority were not. You make it sound every single Staph aureus is a drug-resistant killer guaranteeding a hospital visit/stay if one encounters it, and that is simply not true. As an RN you should know that Staph is not part of normal gut microflora nor does it colonize normal, healthy muscle tissue. That means the Staph isn't getting on the meat due to contact of the carcass with the viscera. The contamination has to come from contact with an externally contaminated surface – whether that's the animal's hide or from someone/something in the slaughter/processing operation – right up to and including the local retail establishment.

      It looks like you may need to go back and 'refresh' your informaiton on food poisoning, because 1) the bacteria is not the direct cause of food poisoning – the enterotoxin is (it's a "food intoxication"), 2) the toxin isn't produced at temperatures below about 50F, and 3) you don't run into "drug resistant" Staph aureus food poisoning – for reasons already listed.

      April 18, 2011 at 11:28 am | Reply
  14. Michael

    The ignorance here is amazing. Staph is no joke, while It can die under temperatures of 108 degrees F +, it is not a general bacteria that normally lives on anything. It is an infectious bacteria which has become highly resistant to antibiotics. If you contract staph especially within your organs or blood you may live after some massive antibiotic doses but staph has a habit of coming back. SO be prepared to become familiar with your local hospital.

    April 18, 2011 at 2:59 am | Reply
  15. Tara

    Nice brainwashing technique....putting a picture of an Organic piece of meat on the cover of the story, to make people think that there is "no safe meat". Organic meat was not affected my this staph strain....why? Because Organic meat isn't processed in those nasty, dirty, factory type, huge meat processing plants. Those places process the majority of the meat in the US...and it's super easy to contaminate the entire factory! Why do you think there are mass recalls for meat all the time? Organic, grass fed cows don't have these problems...cause organic meaat can't be processed at these plants. Go organic and eat some steak!lol

    April 18, 2011 at 2:57 am | Reply
    • Michael

      Staph is contagious through contact, so it's more than likely contaminated meat became so by those who handle the meat, it has nothing to do with the bacteria cows get from eating corn. That is another type of bacteria.

      April 18, 2011 at 3:03 am | Reply
  16. Laura

    The problem with Staphylococcus aureus contamination is that it produces a toxin that can lead to severe food poisoning symptoms. You can destroy the bacteria by cooking, but the toxin remains. Even E. coli 0157:H7 and Salmonella aren't a problem if the meat is cooked thoroughly. Not so with Staph.

    April 17, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Reply
  17. Dano

    DON'T EAT MEAT!!! Then the price will go down and I can buy some good steaks!

    April 17, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Reply
  18. Steve

    Son of a bitch! I find this out AFTER I fixed meatloaf for dinner tonight!

    April 17, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Reply
  19. Dru

    What a crock!! all meat, fish, poultry is contaminated when its raw !!! just cook it and the bacteria is killed !!! the liberal freaks of nature will have a field day with this crap !!! BRING ON THE STEAKS !!!

    April 17, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Reply
  20. MWDunn

    As many others have pointed out, the study is flawed and leans towards the senational. I am sure, regrettably, that there is plenty of bacterial presence in our food system. Nothing is perfect. But, remember that S.aureus is everywhere, as others have mentioned. (Heck, in my undergraduate microbio class, we swabbed our faces and most of us grew Staph aureus – including one girl whose facial Staph didn't die after we treated it with multiple antibiotics). Don't throw all the blame on the farmers or the meat packers, and don't make this the "last straw" that switches you to buying organic. THERE ARE REGULATIONS IN THE MEAT INDUSTRY, AND THIS IS WHY. How much worse would this situation be if we had no protections? I'm all for small-scale, local farming and processing, but there aren't enough USDA inspectors to hit all the smaller plants. Who's to guarantee that all the regulations are being followed there?

    Furthermore, consider that this study looked at an EXTREMELY limited number of samples – and extrapolated the data in the worst way possible. Samples from FIVE cities in the US suddenly correlates to "half of the country"?! Give me a break! I'd get marked off if I submitted my stats homework tomorrow with a study designed like that.

    April 17, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Reply
    • Michael

      Sorry but staph should not be living on your face, while it is true there are many staph carriers who more than likely carry it on their nose it is not your average bacteria, in fact the one girl who's staph didn't die after antibiotic treatment more than likely has what's called MRSA and she should be treated before she spreads that to anyone else as it could be fatal to others.

      April 18, 2011 at 3:07 am | Reply
  21. svann

    We knew 50 years ago that you have to cook your meat or you might get sick. Why is this news?

    April 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Reply
  22. Gina

    What a glorious day to be vegan and have vegan kids!

    April 17, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Reply
  23. Justin

    LOL @ all the conspiracy theorists against CNN! LMAO!

    April 17, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Reply
  24. Talon

    "Biogenetically-tuned" light energy, compounded via corollary sound energies appear to be a potentially-viable, safe solution against the multicillin-resistant staphylococcal aureus (MRSA) virus.

    But then...who knows?

    Unfortunately, government and corporation alike will no doubt interfere with and stop any potential immediate and effective solution(s). It is all such criminals know!

    April 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Reply
  25. orewel

    I am so happy that the Republicans fight safer food regulations. Buy local organic meat. Cows get sick from eating corn, they are pumped full of antibiotics because of the corn diet they are given.

    April 17, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Reply
  26. SurRy

    Eat up folks!

    April 17, 2011 at 11:09 am | Reply
  27. Maine Independent

    CNN's job is propaganda–for the corporations. Check the photo on this story about "Staph seen in nearly half of U.S. meat". The photo shows a hand holding a cut of meat that is labeled "Certified Organic".

    Now why would CNN show organic meat, which is too expensive for most consumers to buy. Organic meat in my food COOP comes from small, local producers who certainly would have much higher standards of cleanliness and hygiene than Armour, Perdue, Cargill, etc. because they have more control and being local, would have more concern for their communities and their reputations.

    CNN, by using this photo, is complicit in the goal of mass market processors in trying to smear organic and small local producers. CNN is shilling for big corporations, as usual.

    April 17, 2011 at 9:12 am | Reply
  28. Fannie Toner

    I began a vegan diet about a year and a half ago, as fostered by Dr. John McDougall of Santa Rosa, CA. My health – admittedly good to begin with, improved in several ways. I no longer need to take medication for blood pressure, for one. My reasons were the good benefits of the diet, and the overwhelming evidence of pollution in the meat we are offered: too many antibiotics which we assimilate into our system, as well as the infectious material in much meat (witness the many outbreaks of illness caused by contamination); also, the evidence that the excessive protein in the meat (and dairy!) inhibit the body's use of calcium. Interested people should investigate Dr. McDougall's writings as well as the recommendations of other REPUTABLE sources such as the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

    April 17, 2011 at 8:13 am | Reply
    • Gina

      Sing it! PCRM.org is a fabulous web site! I refer my doctors to that site all the time when they don't understand vegan health and nutrition, and most of them simply do not so I do LOTS of referring!

      April 17, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Reply
      • What?

        And there you have the "truth" of the matter regarding PCRM. It is a vegan-promoting organization. "Reputable" scientists . . . maybe, but all of them with an agenda. It's very easy to put 'half-truths' together, and to take scientific findings out of context to prove one's point. "Unbiased" isn't in their vocabulary.

        April 17, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Reply
  29. Mitch

    Ground meat is the source of most problems. But if you cook it well done, all the bacteria will be killed. But you have so many chefs and cooking shows telling you that burgers should be cooked medium rare. Bad idea.

    April 17, 2011 at 1:38 am | Reply
    • svann

      Because it doesnt need to be cooked well done. It just needs to be cooked enough that the center gets hot enough to kill germs. Even rare meat can be safe if it is cooked right. This has been known for some time, but I guess society is forgetting what it used to know.

      April 17, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Reply
  30. Denise

    MRSA isn't something anyone wants – made me so sick I spent three months in a hospital but believe me, it wasn't from meat. I am "colonized" but again so are most people and eating meat won't help or hurt that at all.

    April 16, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Reply
  31. Mark H.

    I think this study is out of context. I think that you should have done comparisons to the history of bacterial content in the past. Given that bacteria are everywhere and we do not raise cattle in a laboratory in sterile conditions, it is not unexpected. Since you generally do not eat meat raw, what is the real risk you are showing? Cleanliness is always a necessary problem in food manufacture, but most of these bacteria are all around our environment. Do you go to work every day? Touch the door knobs, the phone, use the bathroom, shake hands or interact with the environmet without a bunny suit? I expect someone at CNN to be intelligent enough to put things into perspective. I am not going to be a vegan (and fruits and vegetables are not any better anyway)

    April 16, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Reply
  32. Just eat it

    i still bite the raw heart of a fresh deer kill. i sliceand eat raw product as it turns on the spit, i never cover cuts and work in filth all day, i stepon rusty nails and forget about it. it is the germ freaks that have destroyed themselves. the worst anything does to me is make me poop.

    April 16, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Reply
    • Jorge

      Good luck with the sarcocyctitis and lungworm that you might get from all that uncooked deer heart-biting.

      April 18, 2011 at 10:30 am | Reply
  33. Jez

    Meat is disgusting – its dead and rotting!! Go Vegan.

    April 16, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Reply
  34. Jennifer

    Since it's never a good idea to base your notion of facts on reader responses to stories, I encourage you all to do your own research and actually read the study this article was based on. For one thing, the article does not mention that the study found this type of staph is specific to animals and therefore not a result of human contamination (as some responders have indicated). Second, humans and animals have become more susceptible to these forms of staph as a result of the increased use of antibiotics in the animals slaughtered for meat. The antibiotics are used to treat the perpetual infections and sicknesses of animals raised on factory farms. Though many of the responders have mentioned the prevalence of staph on the mucous membranes of our own bodies, I think the aspect that is being overlooked is the existence of this new super-bug that developed as a result of the inhumane living conditions of the animals. Furthermore, staph is probably the least of the public's problems. Regardless of whether this article is meant as a "scare tactic" or not, one need only do a quick Google search to find that E. Coli, salmonella, and other bacterias contaminate the meat you eat – and are often still there after you've cooked it. It should be noted that the existence of E. Coli in your meat is the direct result of FECES being in your meat, an unfortunate aspect of the slaughtering process that few have yet to realize. There is poop in your meat... So, if you're cool with the risk of food poisoning, enjoy eating feces, and think the power of antibiotics to treat your infections and illnesses is overrated anyway, by all means... eat up!

    April 16, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Reply
  35. Vashra Araeshkigal

    THIS ISN'T NEWS!!! This is Anti-news!
    If anything, the headline *SHOULD* read "Modern tech improves sanitation such that only 50% of American meat remains contaminated!!!"

    Staph, strep, botulism, listeria, trichinosis, salmonella, etc....yes? so? and?!?

    Back before humans were dumbed down to the vapid bovine panicky animals they are today, everyone KNEW that one must fully cook, wash, or otherwise decontaminate food (especially meat products) before eating it.

    April 16, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Reply
  36. Greg A

    Not even worried about it. the amount contained in the meat is almost no threat. It wouldve been recalled if there were any concern.

    April 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Reply
  37. Chris Squires

    My husband is a Meat Cutter and the main thing about meat is make SURE IT IS COOKED PROPERLY !!!

    April 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Reply
  38. Jackie Treehorn

    What a bunch of irresponsible alarmism.

    April 16, 2011 at 10:03 am | Reply
  39. Like this article needs another comment

    I'm not advising anyone to cut bread on the cutting board that they just used for raw chicken, but I think some of the excessive precautions that some people insist on are somewhat self defeating. I eat my meat medium rare and my eggs with runny yolks, and I never get sick. Why is it that Mexicans don't get sick from the e coli in their water that gives Americans traveller's diarhea? Because they have built up natural resistance. Our bodies are pretty amazing that way. I think most people will get the opposite message from the article than what they should. We need to get over our germ phobia, STOP the widespread overuse of antibiotics, and save the antibiotics that work for when we really need them. What might just kill your grandmother who's getting chemotherapy is that an antibiotic that would have worked 20 years ago to kill the infection won't work anymore because so many idiots insisted on taking antiobiotics every time they got the sniffles.

    April 16, 2011 at 8:11 am | Reply
  40. ObamaBinBadagin

    US Grade A – LOL!

    What other food source allows you to play Russian roulette with MRSA and BSE? Its a riot, especially with a couple bottles of wine.

    April 16, 2011 at 8:00 am | Reply
    • Gina

      And milk! Don't forget the milk! LMAO

      April 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  41. pennyforthoughts

    I've been eating meat (red and chicken) for years and I rarely ever get sick, so I must be immune to whatever is on it.

    April 16, 2011 at 7:51 am | Reply
  42. zippyzippy99

    Good thing all that regulation ensures a safe environment for processing food, huh?

    April 16, 2011 at 7:23 am | Reply
  43. Sleddog

    Q: What do you do with a piece of raw meat?
    A: Cook it all the way through and eat it before it gets cold.

    ....duh!

    April 16, 2011 at 6:52 am | Reply
  44. Marfluie

    This article gives me pause, but I probably will not avoid red meat totally. All food has the chance of something on or in it that isn't good and my body has always managed to handle it. I'll probably survive it. Or not.

    Terrorism-by-media has gotten out-of-hand. I always question the media's goal in whatever it says because the media is more focused on ratings and drama than responsible reporting.

    April 16, 2011 at 5:58 am | Reply
  45. OCD anyway

    Other: I was obsessive-compulsive about proper handling & cooking of meat before now ... and will remain so. Personally, I'd rather not have meat from animals fed antibiotics – we don't need any more resistance than what we naturally get!

    April 16, 2011 at 5:26 am | Reply
  46. READ THIS!!

    First of all yall need to stop blaming CNN for reporting this. They are not the only news source reporting this. New York Times and LA is reporting it as well. CNN is the only one who has the balls to stand behind what they report and if any of u bothered to watch the video that they posted you will see that they tell you how to take preventive measures so that you and everyone else is less at risk to get the staph infection(or disease if u want to be particular). Second of all, look at urselves, you are degrading eachother for opinions. For thats what all of these posts are. Everyone is allowed to say what they believe and it is the indivduals responsibilty to look into the facts of what is written and said by anyone, including the media. To be getting upset, and calling people names because they used grammar errors is pathetic. Here's something ya'll need to consider. Children of different ages can get on here and read what ya'll have said and they see that ya'll can not have an adult conversation without putting eachother down, than you are only encouraging them to fight amongst eachother. I know that, that is not exactly the purpose of these posts, but everyone needs to use common sense. And if any of you have taken any biology classes in school, or even listened when your mom, grandma or whoever told you that if you don't wash your hands after going to the bathroom, or after coming in contact with raw meats than you would know that you can get sick. Yes bacteria resistant meats sounds scary, but the news is reporting to inform us. I know that not all things that are reported are for our good, some of it is unneccesary, but that life. Please just follow proper heating temperatures when cooking foods, and make sure you wash your hands...then clean your counters. I use clorox wipes on my counters even though my meats are handled from a plate to the pan. BUT STOP BELITTLING EACHOTHER AND THE MEDIA.

    April 16, 2011 at 4:44 am | Reply
  47. Zachary Davis

    I just ate fajita beef nachos from pappasitos. With a gold platinum margarita. I am still alive. And I smoked a joint.

    April 16, 2011 at 3:29 am | Reply
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