Consumers aware of food safety issues may worry about “superbugs,” but the bacterium resistant to all antibiotics that can cause a foodborne illness is rare according to the latest Meat MythCrusher video.
The newest video in the series released this week addresses concerns about the occurrence of superbugs on meat and poultry products. While activists may claim such cases are on the rise, Mindy Brashears, Ph.D. professor of microbiology and food safety at Texas Tech University, says USDA data points to an opposing result.
“Overall USDA testing shows that all bacteria are decreasing in meat and poultry products, not increasing,” Brashears says. “The number one goal of any meat and poultry processor is to reduce or eliminate all the pathogens in the product before they are consumed.”
Some claims of rising cases of superbugs are a result of an inaccurate definition. Most bacteria will have some degree of resistance and Brashears says most antibiotic resistant bacteria aren’t a threat to human health.
A true “superbug” is actually a bacterium that can cause a foodborne illness and is resistant to all antibiotics, and this is a very rare occurrence.
In addition to sanitary working conditions, processors follow strict withdrawal times to ensure the animal is processed without any residual antibiotics in the meat. USDA testing adds another level of defense against contaminated meat in the food supply.
The Meat MythCrusher video series is produced by the American Meat Institute (AMI), in conjunction with the American Meat Science Association (AMSA), and seeks to bust some of the most common myths surrounding meat and poultry production and processing.