Almanac

Viewpoint - May 4, 2011

Letter: Study finds pathogen in meat products

According to an article in a recent issue of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, half of the meat and poultry sold in U.S. supermarkets may be tainted with the deadly pathogen Staphylococcus aureus.

The study tested 136 samples of beef, chicken, pork, and turkey in five cities. Half of the bacteria were resistant to antibiotics. One organism — MRSA — is a leading cause of fatal infections in schools and hospitals.

The authors suggest that feeding antibiotics to animals in factory farms may contribute to this resistance. Indeed, two-thirds of all antibiotics in the U.S. are used to promote the growth of farmed animals and contain infectious diseases induced by their extreme crowding and stress.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration should ban the routine use of antibiotics in factory farms. The European Union adopted such a ban in 2006. The World Health Organization has recommended a worldwide phase-out.

In the meantime, each of us should replace animal products in our diet with vegetables, fresh fruits, legumes, and grains. These foods contain all the nutrients we require, without deadly pathogens, antibiotics, pesticides, carcinogens, cholesterol, and saturated fats.

Malcolm Davidson, Encinal Avenue, Menlo Park

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