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

    I have been exploring for a little bit for any high-quality articles or weblog posts in this kind of house . Exploring in Yahoo I finally stumbled upon this site. Reading this info So i'm happy to convey that I've a very just right uncanny feeling I found out just what I needed. I most surely will make sure to do not disregard this web site and provides it a look on a relentless basis.

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

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

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

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

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

    Should people become vegetarian?

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

    April 21, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  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 |
  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 |
  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 |
  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 |
  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 |
  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 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 |
  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 |
  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 |
  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 |
    • 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 |
  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 |
  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 |
    • 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 |
  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 |
  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 |
  18. Steve

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

    April 17, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
  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 |
  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 |
    • 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 |
  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 |
  22. Gina

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

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

    LOL @ all the conspiracy theorists against CNN! LMAO!

    April 17, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  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 |
  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 |
  26. SurRy

    Eat up folks!

    April 17, 2011 at 11:09 am |
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