The video above was made in 2003, and describes a frightening narrative that has been tossed about lightly, mainly because the science needed to confirm the hypotheses takes time.
Fast forward 10 years (and right upon my return from vacation, no less), and this week we have yet another peer-reviewed study out of North Carolina, reinforcing the idea that keeping animals in tight confinement, routinely feeding them antibiotics (to keep them from dying in said confinement) and then slicing them up and selling them to you and me…AS FOOD…is a bad idea.
Specifically a bad idea because on these farms they are breeding “superbugs,” or bacteria that resist antibiotics and are presently killing some 18,000 people per year and hospitalizing another 365,000 people per year. A 2011 study revealed that Multi-Drug Resistant Staph, or MDRSA is found in 1 out of 4 random meat samples tested.
Let me reiterate this fact: these farms are BREEDING and GROWING bacteria that can kill you. It’s sometimes in the meat they sell. And they’re asking you to buy and eat it.
This latest study involves the antibiotic-resistant bacterium MRSA ST398, known as “Pig MRSA,” which was first spotted in the Netherlands in 2004, where it had infected both a farmer’s pigs as well as his young daughter. Since that time, it has spread throughout Europe, but in the U.S. had been limited mainly to Iowa. This study focused on the bug in hog-farm workers in eastern North Carolina, where it’s thriving just fine, thank you.
The study compared workers from the industrial hog farm, where they routinely use antibiotics, with hog farm workers from antibiotic-free farms. Both groups carried staph and drug-resistant staph, which was expected. However, workers from the farms using antibiotics were many times more likely to carry the “Pig MRSA” strain, specifically linked to farm drug use.
Here’s the numbers breakdown:
- 41 out of 99 (41.4%) industrial hog farm workers and 42 out of 105 (40%) of the antibiotics-free farm workers carried staph bacteria in their nostrils.
- Of the 41 industrial workers with staph, 13 of them carried “Pig MRSA” strain
- Of the 42 antibiotic-free workers with staph, only ONE of them carried “Pig MRSA” strain
What does this mean for you, my four faithful readers?
This isn’t one of those preference kinds of things, really. In the end, if we’re being honest, giving money to this industry ensures the ongoing breeding of microscopic killers. You want a personal account? Here’s one, from a hog farm worker in North Carolina who passed MRSA on to her husband and daughter.
I think in the long run, this problem can be curtailed by awareness, but in the short term, I’m not so sure. Industrial pig farming, and all industrial farming for that matter is driven by one thing: profits. The ONLY way to stop this trend is with your dollars. If it’s within your means, I suggest finding local meat dealers that can ensure a better product. Or, if your grocer has access to local meats, shop there by all means.