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Consumer Reports Tests: Bacteria on Turkey Raised Without Antibiotics Showed Significantly Less Antibiotic Resistance than Bacteria Conventional Turkey
Date:4/30/2013

beled “no antibiotics,” “organic,” or “raised without antibiotics” were resistant to fewer antibiotics overall than bacteria found on conventional products.
  •     Bacteria related to fecal contamination were found on the majority of samples. Sixty-nine percent of ground-turkey samples harbored enterococcus, and 60 percent E. coli.
  •     Three samples were contaminated with methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
  •     Salmonella, which is one of the top causes of foodborne illness, was found in 12 of the samples tested (5 percent) and two-thirds of them were multidrug resistant; government studies typically find higher rates of salmonella, at around 12 percent. Processing plants are permitted by the government to have product contamination rates as high as 49.9 percent.
  •     Consumer Reports also found much more resistance to classes of antibiotics approved for use in healthy turkeys to promote growth and prevent disease than for those not approved for such uses.
  • 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:

    •     Buy turkey labeled “organic” or “no antibiotics,” especially if it also has a “USDA Process Verified” label, which means that the agency has confirmed that the producer is doing what it says.
    •     Consider other labels, such as “animal welfare approved” and “certified humane,” which mean that antibiotics were restricted to sick animals.
    •     Be aware that “natural” meat is simply minimally processed,
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