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Pork and antibiotics

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Buffalo: Pork and antibiotics
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She calls it "terrifying."

"Eighty percent of all the antibiotics produced in the United States are now fed to cattle and livestock," Congresswoman Louise Slaughter said.

And Slaughter says now bacteria have begun to resist those antibiotics.

Slaughter said, "The animals are not sick to start with. And a daily dose of antibiotics just creates more resistant bacteria."

What does this mean for you and me? According to Consumer Reports, our meat is becoming more contaminated.

Let’s take a closer look at the study: Scientists analyzed about 200 samples of pork, the kind you find in your grocery store, and 69 percent of pork samples contained yersinia enterocolitica, a germ that causes diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain. Of the germs found, over 90 percent were resistant to normal levels of antibiotics.

"Once one bacteria has figured out that resistance, it can then be spread. That gene may be moved from one bacteria to another," said Dr. Mark Shelly.

Dr. Mark Shelly is an infectious disease specialist with Highland Hospital.

Shelly said, "With every bacteria, there's sort of a threshold. You might need a hundred, you might need a thousand, you might need ten thousand germs to reliably infect somebody. Well, all right, your pork might have a hundred germs on it, but then you cook it."

In other words, smart preparation, equals infection prevention.

"You cook the meat through and through and there's no concern whatsoever regarding issues of bacteria," Shelly said.

For those of us still worried about our livestock being injected with antibiotics, Slaughter introduced legislation in 2011 to ban the use of antibiotics on healthy animals. That law remains stuck in the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, there's always organically fed and raised livestock. New York State is home to the third most organic farms in the U.S., including the one owned by Klaas and Mary Martens.

Klaas Martens said, "We're trying to create an environment where the species we're growing is the best adapted species for that environment."

"Raised in a way that does not require the intervention and therefore antibiotics aren't present," said Mary Howell-Martens.

Visit organiccenter.org for more information.

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