Bacteria Pervasive in Hamburgers

Ground beefThe burger test results are in. Researchers bought enough ground beef to make over 1,800 quarter pounders from markets all over the country. Every single burger, without exception, had potentially disease-causing fecal (yuck!) bacteria in it.

It’s getting really bad out there in the meat world. As if that weren’t bad enough, sixty percent of samples had E- Coli, including the much feared 0157 E-Coli, as well as other toxin-producing bacteria. Several other kinds of bacteria were present as well. For instance, ten percent of samples contained Staph Aureus, bacteria which produces a disease-causing toxin that even the usual cooking won’t destroy.

Even worse, 18% of the burgers had antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Even the sustainably-raised burgers had lesser, but still substantial, amounts. That means that if you get sick from these burgers, when the doctor treats you with one or more kinds of antibiotics to fight them, they won’t work.

Choosing sustainably-raised beef won’t help much. Both conventionally raised or “factory farmed” burgers, and so called sustainably-raised burgers were contaminated with fecal bacteria, although the sustainable beef (such as organic and or grass fed) did have lower, but still considerable, rates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The list of reasons behind the bacteria in the burgers is a long one, but it includes unhealthy conditions on the farms, unsavory things in the cow feed such chicken droppings, and even pieces of slaughtered hogs, contamination of the slaughterhouse machinery, inadequate inspection, a too-fast slaughter rate, resulting in stressed workers and inhumane conditions for cows.

Total beef consumption in this country is currently 4.6 billion pounds, and ground beef accounts for half of that. The study was conducted by Consumer Reports, which suggests considering alternate options. We couldn’t agree more. There are so many safer and delicious veggie burgers to try.