Researchers found strains of drug-resistant bacteria in 47% of meat tested in a recent study. They tested 136 samples of beef, chicken, pork and turkey purchased at grocery stores. The type of bacteria found most commonly cause staph infections.
Animals were the most likely source of contamination. Drug-resistant antibiotic pathogens routinely are fed to livestock. The goal is to promote growth and prevent disease in crowded pens on large farms.
Scientists also said food handlers with poor hygiene could introduce the pathogen to the food supply.
The Food and Drug Administration urged the meat industry to cut back on antibiotic use.
Consumers can reduce the risk of a staph infection by:
- Cooking meat thoroughly
- Washing all foods and surfaces that come into contact with raw meat
- Wearing gloves when handling raw meat
The food tested represented 80 brands purchased in Los Angeles, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Flagstaff, Ariz., and Washington, DC.
The federal government says food-borne illness in the U.S. has declined 20% in the last decade.