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Chicken superbug and antibiotic-resistant bacteria

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There are too many super bugs in your chicken breasts. A chicken superbug consisting of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has been found in approximately half of raw chicken breasts sampled nationwide by Consumer Reports, leading the magazine to call for more stringent limitations on the use of medications for livestock. The new study says that about half of the raw chicken breasts in a nationwide sampling carried antibiotic-resistant "superbug" bacteria, according to Consumer Reports, which is a U.S. consumer group.

Consumer Reports describes itself as the world's largest independent product-testing organization, according to news reports from Reuters. In fact, Consumer Reports also called for stricter limits on use of the medicines on livestock, says a December 19, 2013 Fox News article, "Superbug' bacteria widespread in US chicken, consumer group finds."

You also can check out the images at the site, "Images of Chicken superbug." Or see, "Half of All Chicken Breasts in US Contain Superbug: Study." You also can check out some of the news videos of the chicken superbug.

The problem is chicken, that is raw chicken breasts containing the antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Consumer Reports did the independent product-testing of the raw chicken breasts. According to Consumer Reports, the group tested for six types of bacteria in 316 raw chicken breasts purchased from retailers nationwide during July 2013. Almost all of the samples contained potentially harmful bacteria, according to the December 19, 2013 Fox News article, "Superbug' bacteria widespread in US chicken, consumer group finds."

Nearly half the raw chicken breasts tested contained antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Some 49.7 percent carried a bacterium resistant to three or more antibiotics, according to the group, and 11 percent had two types of bacteria resistant to multiple drugs. Resistance was most common for the antibiotics used for growth promotion and disease treatment of poultry.

The problem with antibiotics given to animals such as chicken is that people eating the meat also get the antibiotic in their own systems, which then leads to resistance to antibiotics in case the people have a need for antibiotics, that is if they get an infection or have surgery that requires being given an antibiotic. The issue is that the antibiotics won't work any more because the people become resistant to them having ingested the antibiotics in the various types of meat such as the chicken breasts, even after cooking, frying, grilling, or baking.

Consumer Reports urged passage of a law to restrict eight classes of antibiotics for use only to treat humans and sick animals. The law would be more effective, it said, than the Food and Drug Administration's plan, announced last week, to phase down the non-medical use of antibiotics in livestock over three years, according to the Fox News article.

How much bacteria is allowed in chicken?

You always can check out the FDA's levels for allowable salmonella and campylobacter bacteria in poultry. But currently inspectors still don't have the authority to stop sales of poultry meat that contains salmonella bacteria that is resistant to multiple antibiotics. So the consumer is left to buy what's available.

If you look at who eats chicken, the statistics say that chicken is the most widely consumed meat in the United States, not beef, fish, turkey, duck, or pork or any other meat or game. When it comes to chicken, people in the USA are predicted to eat nearly 84 pounds per person in 2014, compared to 53 lbs of pounds of beef and 48 pounds of pork. Some of these statistics come from the chicken broiler industry.

Eventually over the coming years, the FDA's planned phase-down of antibiotics will trickle down to those who produce chickens for national consumption, including supplying the eateries. But in the meantime, the chickens are continuing to get the antibiotics.

When you cook chicken or any other poultry to at least 165 degrees F (73.8C) to kill bacteria and when you keep a separate cutting board for meat and other foods such as vegetables and breads or dough, at least you keep the bacteria from the meat away from other non-meat foods. Bacteria gets around from putting the chicken on cutting boards you share with other foods. Bacteria also gets transferred from your hands to other foods when you touch the raw meat.

The reason why you don't want to eat chicken fed or vaccinated with antibiotics is that when the antibiotics get into your system, it gets more difficult to treat you if you get sick because than your body also is full of antibiotic-resistant bacteria...just like the chicken had.

Consumer Reports had the raw chicken breasts tested for six types of bacteria in 316 raw chicken breasts purchased from retailers nationwide during July 2013. Almost all of the samples contained potentially harmful bacteria, the type of super bug that would be resistant to antibiotics.

What consumers would like to know is why isn't the Department of Agriculture setting levels for salmonella and campylobacter bacteria in poultry?

Americans are forecast to consume nearly 84 pounds per person in 2014, compared to 53 lbs of pounds of beef and 48 pounds of pork, according to the poultry industry that sells chickens called broilers.

The industry is cooperating with the FDA's plan to get rid of some of the antibiotics over a period of a few years. But shoppers who eat chicken at home or in restaurants want the changes to happen sooner than three years or so in the future.

Organic chicken is different than free-range chicken

Organic chicken must be fed only certified organic feed, which is grown without artificial fertilizers or pesticides, from the time they are two days old. They may not receive hormones or antibiotics at any time. But chickens can get their vaccinations to prevent common chicken diseases.

For free-range chicken, the poultry may be kept inside temporarily for specific purposes like medical treatment or to protect the quality of soil or water, but organic chickens must be given reasonable access to the outdoors if they are to qualify for certification as free-range.

In order to label chicken as free-range, producers must demonstrate through affidavits or testimonials that their poultry have free, continuous access to the outdoors for more than half of their lives. The free-range label can be given even if those chickens aren't let outside. The loophole is that the chickens only need the option to go outside, but the farmer/rancher doesn't have to let them go out. But many chicken producers think a free range certification should only apply if the chickens actually are let outside. How chickens are treated are up to the people working at the chicken farm.

With organic chicken, it's about the organic food the chicken gets to eat. Many organic chickens are treated humanely. The issue comes up when organic chickens also get to go outside a lot and enjoy the fresh air and what's on the ground to peck at. Again, treatment is in the hands of the humans who raise the chickens. A certified organic chicken or eggs is about what the chicken gets to eat and whether the chicken's food is organic. But again, organic chickens aren't supposed to get hormones or antibiotics, just the vaccinations they get and are supposed to be fed only certified organic foods.

You never know when you'll need an antibiotic to work. So you don't want to build up resistance to antibiotics by eating them in animals. How would you be able to fight a super bug if the drugs aren't working because of what you ate? On the other hand, you might add organic meatless meals to your diet. Whatever your eating habits, there are sources of organic chicken, if you eat a lot of chicken and don't want the antibiotics in you if those antibiotics make you resistant to super bug-type of bacteria.

The question consumers ponder is why are chickens more expensive when they don't get hormones or antibiotics and are fed organic foods? That leaves the poorest people or those who shop frugally at the mercy of the industry.

Check out sites such as "Organic Soy-free Chicken - grassfedtraditions.com " and "Free Range Chicken | Certified Organic Chicken - Mercola.com." Or see the site, "What Makes Organic Chicken Organic? | Whole Foods Market." See sites such as, "The Difference Between Organic & Free-Range Chicken" and "Shop Organic Prairie Chicken" or "Applegate - Simple Ingredients. No Antibiotics - applegate.com."

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