By Gergana Koleva
Meat contaminated by a potentially lethal infection is being sold to consumers — creating a public health threat that has largely flown under the the radar due to powerful industry interests and lax accountability at the federal agency in charge of ensuring food safety, according to recent studies and a prominent investigative journalist.
“It makes salmonella look like a picnic,” is how David Kirby, an investigative journalist who has written about MRSA, a life-threatening pathogen, described it in an interview with Consumer Ally. MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is an antibiotic-resistant staph infection that kills about 20,000 Americans — more than the number of people who die from AIDS — each year.
MRSA affects livestock and ultimately supermarket meat. Previously associated mostly with infections acquired in hospitals, nursing homes or by people with compromised immune systems, for the past 15 years MRSA is increasingly being traced to industrial animal feeding operations, so-called factory farms, where much of the nation’s protein comes from.
A number of clinical and academic studies bear this out: a recent Canadian study showed nearly 14% of pork chops (about one in seven) and 6.3% of ground pork sold in supermarkets carried the contamination — taken together, 9.6% of all pork samples. Additionally, 5.6% of the beef and 1.2% of the poultry carried the bug. The bacterium was also found in veal, lamb and other meats.
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