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Consumer Reports Finds Most Pork Contaminated With Yersinia

In a new study of raw pork chops and ground pork, Consumer Reports found 69 percent samples were contaminated with Yersinia enterocolitica, according to a report published by the group today. A lesser-known foodborne pathogen, Yersinia enterocolitica can cause fever, abdominal pain and diarrhea, lasting one to three weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is approximately one confirmed infection per 100,000 people reported each year, but since these cases are severely under-reported, CDC estimates there are actually around 100,000 infections in the United States annually.

Consumer Reports tested 198 samples and found that while the vast majority were positive for Yersinia, only 3 to 7 percent were positive for more the more common foodborne pathogens Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus or Listeria monocytogenes.

According to the report, several of the isolates found were resistant to one or more antibiotics: Six of the eight Salmonella samples, 13 of the 14 Staphylococcus samples and 121 of the 132 Yersinia samples. The study also found MRSA on one sample.

The group points to the widespread use of antibiotics in agriculture as a key contributor to the resistance problem. Read more

Controversial Animal Drug at the Heart of International Trade Dispute

According to recent numbers, 80 percent of antibiotics on the market today are being administered to animals, much of which is given non-therapeutically to promote growth. A new report today on msnbc.com by Helena Bottemiller reveals that ractopamine hydrochloride, a growth promoting drug, has become the focus of an international trade dispute concerning its potential effects on human health.

“Although few Americans outside of the livestock industry have ever heard of ractopamine, the drug is controversial,” Bottemiller writes. “Fed to an estimated 60 to 80 percent of pigs in the United States, it has sickened or killed more of them than any other livestock drug on the market, Food and Drug Administration records show. Cattle and turkeys have also suffered high numbers of illnesses from the drug.”

According to the story, USDA meat inspectors have reported an increase in “downer pigs”–livestock that is unable to walk–who have been fed ractopamine. On Monday, the Supreme Court unanimously voted down a California ban on “downer” livestock being used in the food supply, on the basis of a federal preemption. Read more