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New research finds that most store-bought beef contains dangerous bacteria

by , 27 August 2015

Are you a meat lover? Well, then, you'll want to read this. According to new data from Consumer Reports, store-bought ground beef often contains a variety of dangerous bacteria that can make humans sick, and is resistant to the drugs used to treat it.

While you can kill most bacteria in meat by cooking it correctly, a lot of people enjoy their meat rare, which puts them at a greater risk for illness. Especially when the meat comes from conventionally raised cows, which are treated with hormones and antibiotics!

This new study in Consumer Reports found that nearly 20% of ground beef tested from conventionally raised cows had bacteria resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics. Only 9% that was sustainably made had antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Read on for more details.

What the study found out about bacteria in ground beef

For the report, Consumer Reports purchased and tested 300 packages of conventionally and sustainably produced ground beef sold in stores around the US. The meat was tested for five common types of bacteria that can be found in beef: Clostridium perfringens, E. coli, Enterococcus, Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus. Bacteria of some kind was found in all of the beef samples, though sustainably produced beef was less likely to have harmful strains.
More than 80% of conventional ground beef had two types of bacteria and nearly 20% of the samples containedC. perfringens, which causes close to a million cases of food poisoning every year. “There’s no way to tell by looking at a package of meat or smelling it whether it has harmful bacteria or not,” Urvashi Rangan, executive director of the Center for Food Safety and Sustainability at Consumer Reports, said. “You have to be on guard every time.”

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The research also found that 10% of the samples had a strain of S. aureus that produces a toxin that can make people ill and isn’t killed even when the meat is cooked properly. Still, cooking meat at 80 degrees Celsius should kill most bacteria.

The solution? Opt for grass-fed or organic beef from now on

The findings suggest that consumers may want to look for ground beef that’s sustainably produced, with labels reading “no antibiotics,” “grass-fed,” and “organic,” according to Consumer Reports. 
Consumer Reports says “grass-fed organic” may be one of the best labels to go by since it means the cattle eat organic grass and forage and do not receive antibiotics or hormones.

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