Turkey is supposed to be one of those “healthy meats”, right?
Not in this case. Cargill, the nations largest meat producer, just recalled 36 million pounds of turkey from across the country because of Salmonella. And this isn’t just a regular strain of Salmonella either. So far one death, and 77 sick across 26 states. And those that are sick are very sick, because the Salmonella is resistant to the usual antibiotics doctors use to treat it.
This Salmonella is resistant because a large number of farmers are injecting their animals regularly with antibiotics–29 million pounds of antibiotics per year according to the FDA. They do this, not because the animals are sick, but because regular antibiotic injections make for larger and heavier animals….larger animals, bigger profit.
The problem the injections are causing is that when you regularly inject an animal with drugs that kill bacteria, the bacteria start to mutate and get smart. They develop into “resistant” bacteria. They can live despite being treated with the usual medicines that would normally kill them. (We’ve seen this happen with MRSA-resistant staph–flesh eating bacteria in the US)
That is what happened this past week. The Salmonella present in the meat is really a Super Salmonella–named “Salmonella Heidelberg” and is resistant to the 3 antibiotics used to treat this illness in humans.
This sends the doctors that are treating these folks to look for other, stronger antibiotics to do the job. But sometimes they just don’t exist.
“We really believe that the responsible use of antibiotics to provide safe, nutritious, affordable foods is the appropriate way to go,” says Sherrie Rosenblatt, Vice President of the National Turkey Federation.
“If served undercooked poultry in a restaurant, send it back to the kitchen for further cooking.”
One obvious way to avoid this and other salmonella outbreaks is to avoid eating meat. Another is to buy your meat from local organic producers who don’t use antibiotics.
As for me, I’ll stick with veggie burgers.
Read the entire NPR story here