Ground pork and pork chops sold in grocery stores throughout the country have tested positive for harmful and antibiotic-resistant bacteria and drugs, according to Consumer Reports.
After analyzing nearly 200 samples from major grocery chains, investigators didn't find the bacteria traditionally linked to pork – trichinosis and salmonella – to be the biggest problem. Rather, 69 percent of the samples contained Yersinia enterocolitica bacteria, which sickens approximately 100,000 people a year, many of whom are children. In addition, the magazine found that 11 percent of samples contained Enterococcus bacteria and 7 percent contained Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Four percent contained salmonella and 3 percent contained listeria.
Furthermore, a majority of the bacteria was resistant to at least one form of antibiotic. Resistance ranged from 63 percent of the Enterococcus to 93 percent of the Staphylococcus aureus. Many experts think that the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics in livestock, administered to make animals grow more quickly than normal, is to blame.
Consumer Reports also found traces of the drug ractopamine in about one-fifth of the pork samples. It promotes growth and leanness in pigs, and is legal and generally considered fairly safe in America. However, it is banned in China, Taiwan and much of the EU, and has been linked to anxiety and restlessness in people who ingest too much.
Consumer Reports recommends that people cook pork to 160 degrees to kill bacteria.