Consumer Reports details information on ground beef contamination with bacterial pathogens

In my previous blog post, I was discussing how Consumer Reports had conducted an investigation into contamination of retail chicken with known bacterial pathogens. We then discussed in class ground beef, and the likelihood that it will always be contaminated with bacteria. Consumer Reports came through for me again, and in their report: How safe is your ground beef?, they essentially proved me correct. Most ground beef, simply by the way it is processed, would generally be exposed to colicoliform bacteria (bacteria found in poop). What they found was all samples tested contained these bacteria.

And before we go any further,  let me stress, that thoroughly cooked hamburger is completely safe. Once your food is cooked (this means inner temp of your burger) is at 160 degrees F, the bacteria that are there are dead. Dead bacteria cannot hurt you. However, if your burger is pink inside, the bacteria that are there are still viable.

What kinds of bacteria did they find? They tested 300 samples of ground beef from various sources- big box stores, whole food stores (conventionally raised cattle, and those from sustainably raised cattle) . They tested for the five main types of bacteria that are indicated in disease from contaminated food: Various strains of E. coli (including O157),  Clostridium perfringens, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, and Enterococcus.

20% contaminated with C. perfringens
10% with S. aureus- strains that included food superantigens

But worse yet, 18% ground beef from conventionally raised cattle were contaminated with superbugs (bacteria resistant to three or more antibiotics). Ground beef from sustainably raised  cattle had 9% contamination from superbugs.

More about this tomorrow….

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