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article imageAmericans should know that all beef has dangerous bacteria, study

By Caroline Leopold     Aug 24, 2015 in Food
Consumer Reports tested 300 off-the-shelf ground beef packages and found fecal contamination in every sample and 1 in 10 packages contained drug-resistant bacteria.
Americans who love ground beef may want to turn up the heat on their hamburgers. Based on the results of the Consumer Reports study, virtually all of ground beef they tested contained at least one bacteria that can make eaters sick.
Meat served rare or medium-rare should be considered dangerous — a properly cooked meat should reach an internal temperature of above 160 degrees Fahrenheit. “Up to 28 percent of Americans eat ground beef that’s raw or undercooked,” Hannah Gould, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told Consumer Reports.
Food poisoning outbreaks and recalls of bacteria-tainted ground beef are common. Just before the July 4 holiday this year, ground beef and steak destined for restaurants and food-service retailers because of possible contamination with a dangerous bacteria known as E. coli O157:H7.
According to an FDA advisory about the recall, this bacteria can release a toxin that damages the intestine, leading to abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting, which resolves in 3 to 4 on average. Some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which most commonly affects young children and older adults.
The use of antibiotics in animals can cause potentially serious illnesses in humans when they consume or handle contaminated food. Many of the pathogens from animals are drug-resistant and these superbugs tend to cause more serious food poisoning in people, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Consumer Reports bought and tested 300 packages (458 pounds) of ground beef from 103 stores in 26 cities across the U.S. They tested beef raised in conventional conditions, which were fed grain and soy and given antibiotics to promote growth and reduce disease. Also, they bought beef raised in more sustainable conditions where cattle did not receive antibiotics.
The research team analyzed the samples for five common types of bacteria found on beef—clostridium perfringens, E. coli (including O157 and six other toxin-producing strains), enterococcus, salmonella, and staphylococcus aureus.
A worrisome result was that all 458 pounds of beef contained bacteria that signaled fecal contamination (enterococcus and/or nontoxin-producing E. coli), which can cause blood or urinary tract infections. Almost 20 percent contained C. perfringens, a bacteria that causes almost 1 million cases of food poisoning each year.
Ten percent of the samples had a strain of S. aureus bacteria that can produce a toxin that can make you sick. That toxin can’t be destroyed — even with proper cooking.
Salmonella which is the leading cause of food poisoning was found in 1 percent of the samples contained salmonella.
The majority of samples — 82 percent for conventional beef and 58 percent of sustainable beef — were contaminated with two or more types of bacteria.
All of the 300 samples, except for three that were excluded, were tested positive for drug-resistant bacteria. Most of the conventional (77 percent) and sustainable (69 percent) beef contained bacteria resistant to at least one antibiotic.
Also, 18 percent of conventional beef samples were contaminated with superbugs — the dangerous bacteria that are resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics — compared with 9 percent of beef from samples that were sustainably produced.
Other research studies have found drug-resistant bacteria in beef. A 2011 study (open access) in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found S. areus in 37 percent of beef samples tested. Turkey had the most contamination at 77 percent followed by pork (42 percent) and chicken (41 percent). Further testing found that two-thirds of the samples were colonized by a superbug resistant to one or more antibiotics.
More about E coli, Drugresistant bacteria, Food poisoning, s aureus, Ground beef
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