Myth: Superbugs are on Most Meat and Poultry Products


A true superbug is very rare in nature and even more uncommon on meat and poultry products. A superbug is a bacterium that will make you sick and is resistant to all antibiotics. Some recent reports have claimed finding superbugs on meat and poultry products by saying a bacteria found is resistant to at least one antibiotic, but by nature many bacteria are resistant to at least one antibiotic, but can easily be treated with other antibiotics.

The FDA has said that it is an oversimplification to say that resistance to any single antibiotic is a risk to human health. [1]

Overall USDA sampling data show that bacteria on raw meat and poultry products are decreasing across the board - not increasing.[2]  The objective of every meat and poultry processor is to eliminate pathogenic bacteria on products before they are consumed.

Some consumers have also expressed concern about residues in meat and poultry products as a result of antibiotic use on the farm, but there are very strict rules about withdrawal periods for animals who are given antibiotics. This means that a certain amount of time must pass between when an animal is given an antibiotic and when the animal is processed so that the antibiotic can get out of the animal’s system. USDA tests for antibiotic residues and if they are found the product is not allowed to enter the food chain.

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Proper cooking is a sure fire way to ensure there are no antibiotic resistant bacteria on meat and poultry products. Whether antibiotic resistant or not, all potentially harmful bacteria are killed when meat and poultry are cooked to the proper cooking temperature.

Additional Resources: How to Properly Use a Meat Thermometer See Also: Myth: Antibiotic Use In Livestock Production Is Increasing And This Is A Human Health Risk