Vegetarians 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.