Pork May Contain Harmful Bacteria
November 28, 2012

Pork Contains Significant Amounts Of Harmful Bacteria: Consumer Reports

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

According to an analysis by Consumer Reports, U.S. pork-chop and ground-pork contain significant amounts of harmful and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The report found that about three percent to seven percent of the pork samples contained dangerous bacteria like salmonella, staphylococcus aureus and listeria monocytogenes. All of the bacteria are known to cause food borne illnesses.

Consumer Reports said that widespread contamination of the bacterium yersinia enterocolitica was also found, which can induce fever, diarrhea and abdominal pain. This bacterium was found in 69 percent of the tested samples.

"Some of the bacteria we found were resistant to multiple drugs or classes of drugs," Consumer Reports wrote in its report. "That´s worrisome, because if those bugs make you sick, your doctor may need to prescribe more powerful (and expensive) antibiotics."

About a fifth of the pork products tested also contained low levels of the drug ractopamine, which is used in pigs raised for food to accelerate their growth and leanness. This drug is banned in the European Union, China and Taiwan.

Stephen Morse, of the Columbia University School of Public Health, told CBS News that while you can expect to find some bacteria in any meat product, the surprise is to find so many potentially disease-causing bacteria.

Ninety-percent of the bacteria found by Consumer Reports were said to be resistant to antibiotics.

"All of these things paint a very concerning picture about this indiscriminate use of antibiotics in meat production in this country, and what we believe are the resulting consequences of that," Urvashi Rangan, Consumer Reports director of consumer safety and sustainability, wrote in the report.

Scott Hurd, a former top food safety official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, told CBS News that the report is "inflamed and used small amount of data to frighten people."

US News reported that New York Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter called the report "terrifying" and said that it is getting tougher to ignore the fact that the overuse of antibiotics in animals is threatening humans.

Consumer Reports does offer some solutions to the pork problem report. It says you can cook pork with a meat thermometer to ensure that it reaches the proper temperature to kill the bacteria.

Also, the report suggests keeping raw pork and its juices separate from other foods, especially those eaten raw. Another suggestion is to choose pork that is raised organically, and look for "no antibiotics used" claims.

"If your local supermarket doesn´t carry pork from pigs raised without antibiotics, consider asking the store to carry it. To find meat from animals that were raised sustainably–humanely and without drugs–go to eatwellguide.org," Consumer Reports suggests.