Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Do You Know What’s in Your Food? Bacteria and Drugs found in US Pork

An analysis from Consumer Reports recently revealed that samples of US pork-chop and ground-pork were found to contain significant amounts of harmful and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, in addition to low levels of growth hormone used to increase growth in pigs. 

The analysis showed that 3% to 7% of the samples contained dangerous bacteria.  Among those found included: salmonella, staphylococcus aureus and listeria monocytogenes.  These are all known to cause serious and harmful food-borne illnesses.  Found in 69% of the samples was the bacterium Yersinia enterocolitica, known for causing fever diarrhea and abdominal pain. 

The analysis included 198 samples.  Consumer Reports found that among the bacteria discovered, there were some found to be antibiotic-resistant.  Consumer Reports suggested that this could be a result of the pork farming industry’s common practice of administering low-dose antibiotics to promote weight gain.  Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been a hot topic in recent years because these “super bugs” are not able to be treated with our conventional antibiotics. 

In addition to the bacteria, the analysis also revealed that the pork products tested contained low levels of the drug ractopamine, which is commonly used in pigs that are raised for food in order to accelerate growth and leanness.  The drug is currently approved in the US but is banned in other countries, including the European Union, China and Taiwan. 

The overall analysis showed that the ground-pork samples were more likely to contain bacteria than the pork-chop samples.
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