Consumer Reports has recently turned its independent testing laboratory to investigating our broken food production system with a report on the American poultry industry. The results of its testing are unsettling:
- Every one of the four major brands we tested (Perdue, Pilgrim’s, Sanderson Farms, and Tyson) contained worrisome amounts of bacteria, even the chicken breasts labeled “no antibiotics” or “organic.”
- Almost none of the brands was free of bacteria. And we found no significant difference in the average number of types of bacteria between conventional samples and those labeled “no antibiotics” or “organic.”
- More than half of the chicken breasts were tainted with fecal contaminants (enterococcus and E. coli), which can cause blood and urinary-tract infections, among other problems.
- Enterococcus was the most common bacterium we found, occurring in 79.8 percent of our samples. Next was E. coli, in 65.2 percent of them; campylobacter, 43 percent; klebsiella pneumoniae, 13.6 percent; salmonella, 10.8 percent, and staphylococcus aureus, 9.2 percent.
- About half of our samples (49.7 percent) tested positive for at least one multidrug-resistant bacterium, and 11.5 percent carried two or more types of multidrug-resistant bacteria.
- Of the 65.2 percent of samples testing positive for E. coli, 17.5 percent of the bugs were “ExPEC” bacteria, a nasty type of E. coli that’s more likely than other types to make you sick with a urinary-tract infection.
We take antibiotics for granted. Strep throat, sinus infection, UTI—a quick visit to the doctor, a prescription, and you’re feeling better. But that era is coming to an end because these lifesaving drugs are being overused, particularly in livestock production.
Already 2 million Americans are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and at least 23,000 die each year. The spread of these "superbugs" is happening so fast the Centers for Disease Control says if we don’t act, our national medicine cabinet will soon be empty.
Join us in calling for immediate action from our nation’s top health officials to stop the overuse of antibiotics!
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