Studies conducted by Consumer Reports strongly suggest that there is a direct relationship between the routine use of antibiotics in animal production and increased antibiotic resistance in bacteria on ground turkey.
Bacteria on ground turkey products labeled “no antibiotics,” “organic,” or “raised without antibiotics” were resistant to fewer antibiotics overall than bacteria found on conventional products.
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A press release from Consumers Union.
In its first-ever lab analysis of ground turkey products, Consumer Reports found potential disease-causing organisms in most of the samples it tested, many of which proved resistant to more than three antibiotic drug classes. Consumer Reports tested 257 samples purchased from stores nationwide.
“Our findings strongly suggest that there is a direct relationship between the routine use of antibiotics in animal production and increased antibiotic resistance in bacteria on ground turkey. It’s very concerning that antibiotics fed to turkeys are creating resistance to antibiotics used in human medicine,” said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Director of the Food Safety and Sustainability Group at Consumer Reports. “Humans don’t consume antibiotics every day to prevent disease and neither should healthy animals. Prudent use of antibiotics should be required to stem the public health crisis generated from the reduced effectiveness of antibiotics.”
The complete report and analysis can be found in the June 2013 issue of Consumer Reports and online at www.ConsumerReports.org.
Consumer Reports Findings
Consumer Reports purchased 257 samples of raw ground turkey meat and patties, including products from major retailers and store brands, and tested them for the presence of five bacteria: enterococcus, Escherichia coli (E. coli), staphylococcus aureus, salmonella, and campylobacter. Below are some key findings. Additional data will be available at www.ConsumerReports.org.
What Consumers Can Do
Common slip-ups while handling or cooking can put consumers at risk of illness. Although the bacteria Consumer Reports found are killed by thorough cooking, some can produce toxins that may not be destroyed by heat, so take the following precautions:
Tips for Choosing Meaningful Labels while Shopping for Turkey:
Tips for Safer Preparation and Handling:
What Regulators and Congress Should Do
Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, has urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to restrict the use of antibiotics in food animals since the 1970s. The FDA should prohibit antibiotic use in livestock except for the treatment of veterinarian-diagnosed sick animals.
“The current FDA guidance is not adequate—it simply calls for voluntary changes by industry. This will not get the job done,” said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports.
Consumers Union believes the FDA – or Congress, if the FDA will not act – should take the following steps:
Consumers Union further urges the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is charged with ensuring the safety of ground turkey, to do the following:
Funding for this project was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Any views expressed are those of Consumer Reports and its advocacy arm, Consumers Union, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.
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