As summer barbeque season begins, superbugs are sure to be uninvited guests. Superbugs are as scary as they sound. Think about contracting the worst stomach bug that cannot be treated by drugs and could possibly kill you. These pathogens arrive on almost every piece of meat you bring into your kitchen, place on your grill or order from a restaurant.
Superbugs are bacteria that have morphed through the years to create antibiotic-resistant strains. This has occurred for a variety of reasons, including the excessive use of the drugs in medicine, veterinary care, household cleaners, industrial products and in virtually every other aspect of our lives. In addition, industrial farmers have continually fed their agricultural animals low levels of antibiotics to speed their growth.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that federal scientists in 2013 tested meats for antibiotic-resistant bacteria and found the superbugs in:
- 81 percent of ground turkey
- 69 percent of pork chops
- 55 percent of ground beef
- 39 percent of chicken breasts, thighs and wings
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that every year one in six people — or 48 million — become sick from foodborne illnesses and about 3,000 people die.
Foodborne infections can spread to your family and guests through hands, countertops and utensils that came in contact with the diseased meat. Your loved ones may also ingest the bacteria in undercooked meat.
You can help control infections by:
- Purchasing only organic meats from animals raised without antibiotics
- Understanding and reading labels on meat packages
- Storing meat away from produce and on your refrigerator rack
- Thawing your meat in your fridge, rather than on countertops
- Using different cutting boards for your nonmeat and meat items
- Not rinsing your meat, which can unnecessarily spread bacteria
- Always using a thermometer to ensure your meat is thoroughly cooked at a temperature that kills bacteria
Even if you are a careful shopper and immaculate cook, avoiding exposure to the bacteria is difficult whenever you eat a meat product.
If you or your family member became ill from contaminated meat, discuss your rights with a San Diego County products liability lawyer.