A Dirty Secret about the “Gateway” Meat
It can transform bland veggies… add flavor to soups… and elevate artisanal chocolates. In fact, this savory, salty, smoky ingredient can make just about anything taste better.
Paleo-diet devotees proudly wear shirts emblazoned with “I Love Bacon”. In fact, it has even been called the “gateway meat” because the flavor and aroma of bacon are so addictive and enticing that it has turned more than a few vegetarians back into meat eaters.
We certainly love our bacon!
Americans eat more than 18 pounds of bacon each year on average. And recently the bacon products market has really begun to sizzle. From bacon soda to bacon vodka – and even bacon milkshakes – you don’t have to look far to realize that we are a bacon-obsessed culture.
But whether you enjoy bacon for the indescribable flavor it adds to salads, soups and other dishes… or you prefer it sizzled up by the pound, there is something you should know.
There are Super-Bugs in Your Bacon
According to the January 2013 edition of Consumer Reports, an alarming 83 percent of pork products sold in grocery stores are contaminated with harmful bacteria and drug residues.
Stephen S. Morse, Ph.D. is the Director of the Center for Public Health at Colombia University. Commenting on this finding, here’s what he has to say:
“You always expect to find some bacteria in any meat product. But those are usually harmless. I think the real surprise here was to find so many potentially disease-causing bacteria.”
Even worse is that 90 percent of the bacteria were found to be antibiotic resistant “super-bugs”.
“All of these things paint a very concerning picture about this indiscriminate use of antibiotics in meat production in this country,”
says Urvashi Rangan, the director of consumer safety and sustainability for Consumer Reports.
The Health Consequences of Factory Farming
Regarding the 240 products tested by Consumer Reports, here’s what was found:
- 69 percent tested positive for Yersinia enterocolitica, a bacterium that can cause fever, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Of the positive samples, 121 out of 132 were resistant to one antibiotic. More than 50 were resistant to two or more antibiotics.
- 7 percent of the products tested positive for Staphlococcus aureus. Nearly all of these bacteria were resistant to at least one antibiotic.
- 4 percent of the products tested positive for Again, nearly all of these bacteria were resistant to at least one antibiotic.
- 11 percent of the products tested positive for coli – a dangerous pathogen that produces a range of digestive symptoms and causes urinary tract infections.
- 20 percent of the products tested contained residues ractopamine – a drug used to promote the growth of livestock. In humans, ractopamine may cause elevated heart rates, restlessness and anxiety.
This study is just one glaring example of why factory farming is a failure when it comes to the environment and your health. But it certainly doesn’t mean that bacon cannot be healthy and safe to consume.
Happy Pigs Make Healthy Bacon
You can have your bacon… without an unwanted side of “superbugs”.
Here are three easy ways to protect yourself:
#1 – Know Your Farmer
These days, there are a myriad of misleading labels applied to foods. And many of these are more about marketing and less about the quality or contents of the food. “Organic” pork, for example, must be fed organic feed. But pigs raised organically can also live in a confined feeding operation – an inhumane environment that increases disease risk.
“No antibiotic residues” and “no antibiotic growth promotants” are often added to package labels. But these are unapproved claims. Similarly, “no hormones added” is moot as the USDA bans the use of hormones on all pork. So, beware of these misleading labels – they do not necessarily afford you any protection.
Finally, many people wrongly assume that “natural” pork is similar to organic, pastured or certified humane. But the truth is, meats labeled “natural” can still be administered drugs and antibiotics.
To ensure your pork is free of unwanted adulterants and hitchhiking superbugs, know your farmer!
#2 – Cook it Properly
Cook whole cuts of pork to 145 degrees F and ground pork to 160 degrees F to kill any bacteria that may linger. Pick up an instant digital thermometer for easy testing.
#3 – Practice Basic Food Safety
Be sure to practice general food safety when cooking any meat. Separate it from other foods, use a non-porous cutting board, and be sure to clean all surfaces and wash your hands thoroughly after working with pork and other meats.
Choosing pork that’s raised right doesn’t just make for tastier bacon. It also helps to protect you and your family from “superbugs” and harmful agricultural chemicals. Go ahead and enjoy a juicy pork chop or a crisp piece of bacon from a farm you can trust – U.S. Wellness Meats!
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