It seems that the demise of the small family farms in lieu of the huge factory farms has not been very good for our health. We have had frequent outbreaks of salmonella food poisoning as well as the potentially lethal E-coli. It seems like every couple of months there’s a new outbreak in the news.
So far the problem has mainly been in the processing plants where E-coli is put into the meat when fecal matter is accidentally ground in with the meat. A flawed inspection process and lack of government regulation has left a recipe for disaster in the plants.
Now there is another problem that has the potential to make our meat even less safe to eat than it already is. Antibiotic resistant staph bacteria (MRSA) has been found in some 47% of our meat supply from factory farms. That’s right 47%. That’s almost half.
Here is the problem: Staph infections that are resistant to treatment are running rampant in hospitals. My mother died from one and it can happen to you as well. The cause of this is two fold: First, the pharmaceutical companies have stopped researching and making new antibiotics.
As the bacteria become more and more resistant, we have less and less antibiotics to fight them. The reason for this is that the pharmaceutical companies can’t make enough money on the antibiotics. You usually take one round of them and then stop. They want to develop medicines that you have to keep taking (and buying) for the rest of your life.
The second problem is with the patient. A lot of people ask for and get antibiotics from their doctors when they really don’t need them. They are ineffective for a cold or the flu or any other type of viral infection, but how many times have you taken them for that.
The other part of the problem is that people don’t finish all of the antibiotics like it says on the bottle. They stop taking them when they start to feel better. This allows any remaining bacteria in your system to develop a resistance to the drug.
The scenario for the animals on the factory farms is pretty much the same. They are given so many antibiotics to keep them healthy in the unsanitary conditions on the farms that they also develop a resistance to the antibiotics. And more and more of them are getting infected with drug resistant staph bacteria. According to Health News.com:
“According to senior study author Lance B. Price who head’s Tgen’s Center for Food Microbiology and Environmental Health, “For the first time, we know how much of our meat and poultry is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Staph, and it is substantial.”
To show you how bad the state of our meat supply really is, some European countries have refused to import meat from the United States.
What can we do besides fight for greater regulation of the meat industry? Here are a few things that you can do to protect yourself: Buy from small family farms that don’t use antibiotics. Throughly cook all of your meat because cooking to an internal temperature of 160 degrees or more will kill the bacteria. Avoid cross-contamination by throughly cleaning and disinfecting cooking utensils and counter tops after they come in contact with raw meat. And finally, make sure you wash your hands frequently.