In testing and analysis of pork chop and ground pork samples from six U.S. cities, Consumer Reports found high rates of Yersinia enterocolitica, a bacterium that can cause food poisoning, especially in children. The majority of the Yersinia and as well as a substantial portion of several other bacteria detected were resistant to medically important antibiotics Consumer Reports tested.
"Antibiotics are routinely fed to healthy animals at low levels. This practice promotes the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which are a major public health concern," said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, director of safety and sustainability at Consumer Reports. "Infections caused by resistant bacteria are more difficult to treat and can lead to increased suffering and costs."
A separate test for ractopamine, a drug used to promote growth and leanness in pigs, found very low levels. Although approved for use in the United States, the drug is banned in China and Taiwan and in all of the European Union. Several countries had safety concerns about ractopamine, which is similar to drugs used to treat asthma.
"No drugs, including ractopamine and antibiotics, should be fed routinely to healthy animals for growth promotion and to prevent disease. These practices are harmful to public health, which is why they are banned in Europe," said Dr. Michael Hansen senior scientist for Consumer Reports.
The complete report and analysis can be found in the January 2013 issue of Consumer Reports and online at ConsumerReports.org.