The presence of antibiotic resistant Salmonella at the slaughterhouse may be one thing, but its presence in retail meat (i.e. its final stop before consumption) is yet another. So how much retail meat (ground turkey, chicken, beef, and pork) is actually contaminated at the point of purchase? And with what?
An article in the New England Journal of Medicine reported on a study that answers these specific questions. And the results of the study provide only more grist for the mill regarding the current debate over the non-adulterant status of antibiotic resistant Salmonella and other pathogens. Click on image below to view entire article.
The scientists who performed the study selected 200 samples of ground meat (ground turkey, chicken, beef, and pork) being offered for sale at three grocery stores in the greater Washington, DC area: 98 from one store, 54 from the second, and 48 from the third. Testing revealed an alarming level of contamination . . . in my opinion. Salmonella isolates were recovered from 41 of the 200 samples, with 4 samples testing postive for more than one strain of Salmonella. In total, 13 different strains accounted for the 45 Salmonella isolates. Adding to the level of concern, and hopefully the debate over the USDA/FSIS definition of "adulterant," was that 38 of 45 isolates (that’s 84%) displayed resistance to at least one antibiotic, and 24 of 45 isolates (53%) displayed resistance to at least three antibiotics.
Constructive dialogue on this important issue can only help delineate the arguments, both for and against expanding the USDA/FSIS’s current definition of adulterant to include more bugs that kill people. I guess you could say i’m biased because the people who have been injured or killed, or their families, are the folks we work for. But even putting that aside, doesn’t it make just plain good sense that something as harmful, and apparently as prevalent, as antibiotic resistant Salmonella and other dangerous pathogens should be considered "adulterants" on the foods we consume? What are the counter arguments? I know they can’t be that this is just an issue of passing concern. As one commenter on one of my recent blog posts puts it:
It is unlikely we can reverse this process or reduce their existance by not using antibiotic resistant bacterial. Once these new organism is formed they only multiply and spread. You can see what happened with HA-MRSA since 1980s.
So what are the counter arguments?