Dangerous Bacteria in Ground Beef Shows Study

Ground beef purchased in the store often contains a number of different bacteria that could make humans ill and is resistant to most of the drugs that are used to treat it, says a new study released by Consumer Reports.

While the majority of bacteria in beef can be killed through cooking it correctly, many people in the U.S. prefer eating their meat rare. That puts them at a risk of illness, especially when their meat comes from cows raised conventionally, which receive treatments of hormones and antibiotics, according to this just released study.

The new study found that close to 20% of the ground beef tested from cows raised conventionally in the U.S. contained bacteria resistant to three classes of antibiotics or more. Only 9% of the same ground beef that had been sustainably made had bacteria that were antibiotic resistant.

Consumer Reports for their report purchased and then tested over 300 packages of sustainably and conventionally produced ground beef that is sold in stores across the U.S.

The meat was then tested for five common forms of bacteria found in beef: E. coli, perfringens, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus. Bacteria of a certain kind were found in every beef sample, though the sustainably produced ground beef was less apt to have the strains that are harmful.

Over 80% of the conventional ground beef has two forms of bacteria and close to 20% of the beef, samples had C. perfringens, which causes nearly one million food poisoning cases annually

The research found as well that 10% of the beef samples contained a S. aureus strain that produces toxins that can make people sick and is not killed even when the beef is cooked properly.

Nevertheless, cooking the meat up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit should kill the majority of bacteria.

These new findings suggest consumers might consider looking for sustainably produced ground beef with labeling that reads grass-fed, no antibiotics and organic.

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