(Fixes headline to show turkey is contaminated with
* FDA says "major public health threat"
* Dangerous bacteria found on 90 percent of turkey tested
By Carey Gillam
KANSAS CITY, April 30 Dangerous
antibiotic-resistant bacteria has been found in ground turkey on
U.S. grocery shelves across a variety of brands and stores
located in 21 states, according to a report by a consumer
Of the 257 samples of ground turkey tested, more than half
were found to be positive for fecal bacteria and overall, 90
percent were contaminated with one or more types of
disease-causing organisms, many of which proved resistant to one
or more common antibiotics, Consumer Reports found.
The non-profit, independent product-testing organization
said in the June issue of its magazine that the sampling marked
the first time it had conducted a laboratory analysis of ground
turkey, a popular consumer alternative to hamburger. It was
alarmed by the results.
"Some bacteria that end up on ground turkey, including E.
coli and staph aureus, can cause not only food poisoning but
also urinary, bloodstream, and other infections," said a
Consumer Reports statement on its findings.
The group said it samples ground turkey from 27 different
brands including major and store brands.
Turkeys, like other livestock in the United States, are
commonly given repeated low doses of antibiotics in an effort to
keep the animals healthy and help promote growth. But there has
been growing concern that widespread use of antibiotics in
animals that are not sick is speeding the development of
The National Turkey Federation said the findings were
sensationalized on a sampling that was "extremely small," and
said that blaming use of antibiotics in animals was
"There is more than one way they (harmful bacteria) can wind
up on food animals," said National Turkey Federation vice
president Lisa Picard. "In fact, it's so common in the
environment, studies have shown that generic E.coli and MRSA
(Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) can even be found
on about 20 percent of computer keyboards."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also found widespread
contamination, discovering antibiotic resistant E coli,
salmonella and other harmful bacteria in turkey, ground beef,
pork chops and chicken in sampling done in 2011.
The food safety regulator says resistance of bacteria to
antibiotics is "a major public health threat," and last year
issued voluntary guidelines for animal health and animal
agriculture industries aimed at limiting the antibiotic use in
livestock. The agency has rebuffed efforts to mandate reduced
U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, a New York Democrat, last month
reintroduced legislation that would ban non-therapeutic uses of
eight types of antibiotics in food animal production.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has
issued a warning about antibiotic resistance infections, saying
they are becoming increasingly difficult to treat and more
infected people are likely to die.
"Humans don't consume antibiotics every day to prevent
disease and neither should healthy animals," said Dr. Urvashi
Rangan, Director of the Food Safety and Sustainability Group at
Consumer Reports. "Prudent use of antibiotics should be required
to stem the public health crisis generated from the reduced
effectiveness of antibiotics."
(Reporting By Carey Gillam; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)