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Study Finds Widespread Contamination Of Meat In U.S. Grocery Stores

April 19, 2011 by  

Study finds widespread contamination of meat in U.S. grocery storesVegetarians and locavores — people who eat only locally-produced food — now have a new argument to support their lifestyle. The Translational Genomics Research Institute recently found that about half of the beef, pork and poultry found in grocery stores is contaminated with an antibiotic-resistant form of bacteria.

Staphylococcus aureus is associated with a compendium of human illnesses, and the majority of the strains that the researchers found in the meat appeared to be resistant to at least three varieties of antibiotics.

"The fact that drug-resistant S. aureus was so prevalent, and likely came from the food animals themselves, is troubling, and demands attention to how antibiotics are used in food-animal production today," said lead author Lance B. Price, Ph.D.

The researchers said the antibiotic-resistant forms of bacteria may leave doctors with few options for treatment if a human becomes infected. Additionally, they noted that the crowded industrial facilities that the animals are kept in while being regularly fed antibiotics are likely the cause of the contamination.

While the government typically screens meat for drug-resistant bacteria, inspectors do not currently look for S. aureus.  

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  • bob wire

    You wanted “smaller government”?

    such things are a promise along with “snoozing” air traffic controllers.

    We can be a third world country as good as the next country where 1 % of the populations controls the majority of the wealth.

    • Raggs

      R-U kidding?… yeah the government will now tax the bacteria or find it a job in the white house.

      • Ret

        Will??? It’s already there.

    • meteorlady

      I would be more than happy for my tax dollars to go to an efficient and non-biased FDA, but alas, there are pay-offs, kick backs and other things that make them far far far from believable. Maybe if we got rid of the huge corporate farms and go back to family farms we might fair better.

      I buy my eggs and chicken from a local grower who has free range chickens and no anti-biotic or hormones. She feeds organic and the eggs and chicken are wonderfully flavorful – they really taste different from corporation supplied products. I also buy beef locally, but last year we purchased two steers at auction and have been feeding ourselves. They are healthy and fat without anti-biotic and growth hormones.

      • Marcia Kirschbaum

        Yeah that’s never gonna happen. The FDA really doesn’t exist anymore for any practical reason – talk about a budget cut – that worthless organization would be a good place to start! Go to YouTube and watch “In Lies We Trust”

    • Norm

      Bob Wire,

      We already have a huge government and it has only hidden that fact of sleeping air-traffic controllers. I for one am surprised that Air Traffic Controllers have been unable to go to the bathroom or leave the desk for meals.

      The FEDERAL regulations prevent private sector employers from making employees go for hours on end without breaks however, big government can pass laws that they make themselves immune too. The health care bill comes to mind as one of the more recent cases where the congress excluded themselves from having to participate. Talk about setting up a caste system!

      The FDA is required to keep the food safe. They already exist as a unit but the size of the government is what is preventing quick reaction to new problems. It takes years for a government this size to move on any one thing.

      It has to run past committee after committee and then environmental impact studies have to be conducted. By the way environmental impact study requirements (that could have been suspended for a particular instance as they have been before) are what prevented the authorities (the Army Corps of Engineers) from building barriers to catch the oil in the gulf from the BP Oil disaster.

      Our President and/or congress could have suspended the requirement in a matter of moments but they did NOTHING because they wanted to use the disaster to further their own agenda and punish a state that voted against them in the most recent election.

    • boneyfingers

      Why do people who eat locally grown meat, locally processed, or home processed and packaged think that it is automatically bacteria free. Just why did your mother teach you how to properly prepare meat to be eaten. And why are there cookbooks galore available, and cooking instructions printed on the meat lable? Get off this kick. Even before refrigeration people figured out how to properly prepre meat for human consumption. It’s proper preparation and the immune system our the bodies that determines how the meat effects your health. Keep up your health regimine and remember what you learned in your childhood!!

  • Ellen

    Bob Wire, This didn’t happen because our government is too small. This happened because our government is bloated and inefficient. We shouldn’t allow the use of steroids or antibiotics in our food, but the lobbyists grease enough palms to enable this. We shouldn’t be feeding cows corn; they are grass eaters. Again, lobbyists keep the palms greased. We have several departments responsible for our food and drug supply, yet the suppliers are allowed to police themselves. Over the past 2 years, several agencies/departments have been exposed for not doing their basic jobs (Minerals Mgmt., SEC, ICE, HHS, etc)so why would we want to add to that?

  • mack bowman

    To those big government liberals who say things like this are what
    smaller government would produce. Bull. We have the biggest government
    in the world and still can’t keep our food safe. FDA is huge and does a terrible job just like the bloated education system. “Big Brother”
    does nothing well unless he benefits from it in some way.

  • Polski

    This is what happens when every politician is a crook, and every corporate executive is a crook. It’s not new. It’s just that with more technology, we’re finding out about it more often than in the past.

  • Al Sieber

    This is nothing new, they have been spraying our meat with bacteria for years.

  • SpiritualMadMan

    OK, so what’s the correct response? FEAR! Or, what. Merely stating a fact is like using statisitics to prove a point. So, what are you trying to prove?

    Question, while these bacterium are (possibly) resistant to antibiotics, does thoroughly cooking your meat to 165F still kill them?

    Is *never* eat “rare” a good plan if you don;t absolutely know your meat source?

    That would seem to be an important point to make?

    UNLESS you want us all to go into panic vegetarianism???

    • Marcia Kirschbaum

      What do you mean “Now we Have…”? Nothing new here – this mess has been going on for decades. Corporations run our government.

      Locally grown, organic is the answer. Grow what you can yourself and get the rest through a small, local organic farmer, farmer’s market or a co-op.

      OVERCOOKING meat changes its chemical structure in ways that are both harmful to health and have performance hindering implications. Meat contains high amounts certain amino acids and creatine, which when overcooked are converted into Heterocyclic Amines, which have been identified as free radical agents that cause cancer in humans.

      Sodium nitrite, with chemical formula NaNO2, is used as a color fixative and preservative in meats and fish. While this chemical will prevent the growth of bacteria, it can be toxic in high amounts for animals, including humans. Sodium nitrite is the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines in meats containing sodium nitrite when meat is charred or overcooked.

      Beyond that problem, about two-thirds of American animals raised for slaughter today are injected with hormones to make them grow faster and antibiotics to battle the sickly conditions of being fed chemical laden food, that’s not even close to part of their natural diet, grossly overcrowded and filthy living conditions and America’s dairy cows are given a genetically-engineered hormone called rBGH to increase milk production. In the 1950′s the average dairy cow produced a little under 600 lbs of milk per year. Today it’s almost 19,000 lbs per year.

      Animal products are loaded with bacteria, antibiotics, hormones, dioxins, and a host of other toxins that can cause serious health problems in humans.

      An extremely high percentage of all the flesh from the chickens, turkeys, cows, fish, and pigs butchered every year in the U.S. is contaminated with E. coli, campylobacter, listeria, or other dangerous bacteria that live in the intestinal tracts, flesh, and feces of animals. It is standard practice to wash the meat, we will be eating, with ammonia to try and kill enough of the bacteria to keep us sick all the time, rather than dead. Then the Pharmaceutical Giants take over…

  • meteorlady

    Now would be the perfect time to start raising organic beef, chicken and eggs, along with vegetables and fruits. Might be the opportunity of a lifetime as people are getting more and more concerned about their food supply and the FDA’s handling of “inspections”.

    • ValDM

      Most of us don’t have the land or time to raise our own meat. However, there is an alternative. Go to and you can satisfy your need for organic/local meats, as well as meeting the people you buy from and getting an opportunity to tour the facilities.

      • Marcia Kirschbaum

        There are also farmers willing to raise an animal for you. I pay 20.00 a month plus food costs for a calf I bought, that is being cared for by the farmer. When he’s grown I will use an USDA exempt butcher and the meat will average out at less than one dollar per pound. Another site that should be known is

  • CoosaTotah

    OK folks. Some of you are close, some of you are out in left field asleep!
    I am an ex-USDA-FSIS-MPIO meat inspector.
    It is a multi-factured problem:

    1)US government regulations that are only there for show and does not actually tackle the real problems. Regulations meant to appease the meat plant owners with “diplomacy”! Instead of public food safety.

    2) An agency of the US government that polices ITSELF.That would be like a police officer policing himself! USDA is commissioned with inspecting meat AND IN PROMOTING the safety of our meat to the world!

    3) US employees that only care about “working” their sift and getting off and going home. I have actually witnessed inspectors sitting at their assigned inspection station ASLEEP while the meat passed them by!

    4) etc., etc., etc.. Much more to write, not enough space!

    Government is TOO BIG, bloated, fat, instead of hiring dependable, concerned inspectors (and firing those who are not) they have a “union-like” mental attitude. Most US employees look upon their jobs as safe, secure, and non-fireable from unless they “buck the system” or really, really actually do something that is BAD (by USDA-FSIS-MPIO union-like standards)!

    Although, the antibiotic resistance bacteria problem has more to do with the wording of the regulations. And the fact that USDA has turned much of the controls and lab testing over to the meat plants themselves, USDA inspectors only review the paperwork after the fact!

    Example of an actual incident: In a chicken slaughter plant. Chickens where coming down the line with specks of “something” on them. I stopped the line, informed the plant supervisor and the USDA plant supervisor. They told me to throw away all that I saw BUT to keep the line moving, DO NOT STOP! Five other inspectors were yelling at me not to stop, they did not want to work over time. A certain number of chickens had to be slaughtered to meet the plant’s sales quota! NONE of the other inspectors where paying attention to the chickens, ALL were either talking to plant employees or day dreaming, NONE where throwing away contaminated chickens!
    After the “lunch” break started I inspected the line myself! Not my job. Found the problem with the machinery, gears were misaligned and shaving metal flake down onto the processing area. It took the plant over two hours to fix the problem. NONE of the inspectors or the supervisors would talk to me for the rest of the day! I was an outcast because I did my job with concern for public safety! Peer pressure!

  • http://com i41

    Ellen, cows are legume eaters and corn, barely, rye, wheat and any grain is consumed by ungluates, deer, elk, moose and beef cattle. You are listing or read more pced bs. The contamination of our food comes from the feel good crap of allowing foriegn countries to send their trimming to be added in to our food supply. Beef that was shipped in from S America brought in foot and mouth disease, cattle brought in from Mexico or that follow the illegals over are infected with TB, Bangs, and other dieases. We don’t seal our borders, to stop this menace of infections. In the late spring when cattle is shipped up north to the Dakotas or MT, usually a load is infected and then surrounding herds must be check and inspected.Canada still uses antibodicsa and methods that have been outlawed in the USA for over 3 decades. The animanal is slaughtered in Canada and the swinging halves are cleaned of any organ meats and shipped to the USA. Chicken, pork all have been intergrated and owned by 1 of 4 processing companies, they own the product from creation to the dinner plate. Right now the plan is to do the same with beef, they will have an animal owned and controlled by the company. It will be rased by someone up tyo a certain weigh, then shipped to a company owned feed lo, processed by the company plant and sold at a mega chain, and will only money changing hands is at the store when sold. Wal_Mart has already set up plans to be one ofthe first stores to do it. Steriods are not used like they were in the 70- and early 80′s. When livestock is sold now feeder calves are marketed with no hormones or growth stimulants, which was happing since the early 90′s. As for foreign beef it is anyone guess. You are not quoting facts, but envior bs, chickens are vertically intergrated and the company has it own approved rations, the same as in pork production. The new regs in the last 4 years have made it harder to process livestock in small custom butcher shops where most people I know get their meats.What group get the finger point at them, beltway agancies, elected idoits who have never done a damn thing in life. In the mid 70′s we worked to stopped meats coming in from forgeign countries on ships that by passed inspections since the carcusses were broken down as boxed beef or processed meats. More regualtions written up by 3-4 th year law students and signed off by the elected idoits, as most regs are. We let the beltway bastards continue a program to pay land owners to get paid and produce nothing, these programs only inflate land values for private hunting clubs you and I pay for. If anyone goes to buy land or grow grains or produce foods stuffs, the banks will want you to be in on the govenment programs now matter if you have 50-75% ofthe money to buy theproperty. It is all ingrained attitude of our society. Most of the people would know how to raise any thing but a headache with a bottle. FGDA is a damned joke and tyhe dems have cut the inspectors over the last 3 years by cutting funding. Food is inspected better by States the the feds, down size the feds and the beltway azzes.

  • http://com i41

    CoosaTotah, just like the sugar industry polices its self on costs and what can be raised, or Congress deciding what wages and benefits they need and want and don’t have to take any cuts. I’ll bet if you notices where what was most of the work force. In one plant where a lot of muslims from Somila and other 3rd world countries are usually on the deboning line. A security officersaid it wasn’t nothing to have a squabbel breakout, because some other lanaguage or dialect from the old country were at war, and the loser got gutted, blood and gore was hosed off and line kept moving, another fine government programs to bring more idoits here. Now we will get several planes loads of more muslims from Lirya, Eygpt, and anyother country having problems, all on our borrowed dimes.

  • James

    We now have a government of the lobbyists, by the lobbyists and for the lobbyists. The voices of ordinary citizens are drowned out by the cascading of dollars into campaign chests . . . and individual legislators’ pockets. We now ARE as bad as most Third World countries, but few Americans see it. They know who is on top in “American Idol,” but they don’t know how their legislators voted on anything. Only until we shake our apathy will anything change.

    • Marcia Kirschbaum

      Well spoken. We have really become a pathetic bunch of “blame someone else”. We have allowed the Government to be overtaken by Big Corporations, with nothing but their bottom line, being of concern and through sheer ignorance and lack of educating ourselves, it escalates literally by the second. It’s too late to fix that, but we can control where we get our food and that alone will make a huge impact overall. If we exercise and aren’t ingesting toxins in our food and water, we’re very likely to be healthy, have strong immune systems, not need drugs and in short, not need Merck, Monsanto Pfizer… We can take control back, but we have to do the work.

      • boneyfingers

        If you really want to contract something like strep, and staff infections, change our world into a sterile environment for awhile, and then wait till there is a breach in the system. Wow! What do you think will happen. I can remember a time when sterile hospital environments caused, and I think this still happens, massive strep, and staff problems with post-surgical patients. You entered the hospital for minor surgery and came out with a fast-spreading life-threatening disease. Even the introduction of anti-bacterial dish soaps and sprays for your house became the target of disdain. Does anyone ever think why children committed to day care institutions, along with elementary school children seem to be inordinately ill with any passing bug–their parents in protecting them from all the bad bugs out there have compromised their immune systems. Just give that some thought!


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