How safe are America’s supermarkets when it comes to superbugs? According to a new report, nearly 80 percent of the country’s supermarket raw meats are contaminated with superbugs.
Superbugs In Supermarket Meats
Non-profit organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the results of their latest report this week, and it was revealed that a majority of supermarket meats in the United States are actually contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as superbugs.
Analysis of new government data revealed that superbugs were detected in 79 percent of ground turkey, 71 percent of pork chops, 62 percent of ground beef, and 36 percent of chicken wings, breast, thighs, or legs.
Over 400 meat samples were tested for each type of common supermarket raw meat, and some of the superbugs detected were resistant to very critical antibiotics such as amoxicillin, which is a type of penicillin, and tetracyclines, the most used antibiotics when it comes to food animals.
How Did This Happen?
Superbugs are bacteria strains that are resistant to the effects of known antibiotics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, superbugs are responsible for over 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths each year.
In the past, antibiotics successfully controlled and destroyed many harmful bacteria that can cause illnesses and diseases. However, the way people use antibiotics in recent years have given rise to the so-called superbugs, which are resistant to the effects of antibiotics.
For instance, in livestock, antibiotics are given to the animals to prevent illnesses and to promote animal growth. While such use of antibiotics is somehow effective in preventing illnesses, the overuse or misuse of it also allows the surviving bacteria to thrive, multiply, and develop a resistance to the overused or misused drug. Over time, these new strains may continue to spread to other animals or people and may even pass on their antibiotic-resistant traits to other bacteria.
Public Health Issue
Superbugs are a known serious threat to public health, but report author Dawn Undurraga notes that the government still allows meat producers to give antibiotics to healthy animals, potentially paving the way to even more antibiotic-resistant bugs. It is for this reason that along with the release of the report, the author also released a letter to the FDA, calling for the agency to take action on the matter.
What Can The Public Do?
There are also many ways in which consumers can prevent the spread of superbugs. Some experts suggest remaining vigilant about food safety and purchasing only organic meats or meats that were not raised with antibiotics. That said, simple matters like frequent and proper hand washing with soap and water and not sharing personal items such as razors and towels could also help.
Furthermore, the National Institutes of Health also notes the importance of only taking antibiotics when necessary and taking them exactly as directed by the doctor.