Already the cause of more deaths than AIDS, what makes this drug-resistant bacteria potentially dangerous is the fact that a person can become infected just by topical exposure.
"MRSA is a very different kind of bacteria," said Goldburg. A few months ago, a virulent strain of MRSA was discovered in pigs in a University of Iowa study. Despite this alarming finding, the USDA has made no plans to mandate testing or checking of regulations about how this meat is produced and sold. "As far as I'm concerned," said Goldburg, "USDA and FDA are kind of asleep at the wheel on this one."
What is most ironic about all these bacteria and toxins found in meats that are reported on a regular basis to the mainstream news media is the fact that seldom does anyone mention how these toxins are normally not found in meats produced in healthy, organic environments - that is, farmers and food producers who use sustainable and safe farming practices in their everyday activities. Of course, not all bacteria can be avoided. However, if farmers were required to maintain healthy and humane practices of animal keeping and slaughtering, we would see a dramatic decrease in the prevalence of these types of bacteria.
MRSA can be killed if cooked thoroughly. However, unlike E. coli or salmonella, MRSA causes skin infections. Simply touching uncooked meat harboring the toxin could be a problem, according to both Dr. Mansour Samadpour, an expert bacterial microbiologist with IEH Laboratories and Dr. Rebecca Goldburg, a biologist with Keep Antibiotics Working. Ask the question -- even though cooking the meat will theoretically kill harmful bacteria such as MRSA, would you really still want to consume it?
Healthy-raised meats do not support harmful bacteria such as MRSA, E. coli, and others. If you have to cook something "thoroughly" just to kill any harmful bacteria to make it edible, something about that scenario just doesn't seem right. Healthy-raised meats are safe to consume when cooked medium-rare or medium-well, and actually deliver more nutrient value because vitamins, minerals, fats, and proteins are not completely denatured in the cooking process. The same cannot be said for unhealthy, factory-farmed meats which represent the bulk of meat available to consumers.
The overuse of antibiotics has long been the known cause for many of these unstoppable diseases and bacteria. Indeed, the discovery of the usefulness of antibiotics to save human life over 60 years ago changed the face of modern medicine. But antibiotics are now used for everyday ailments and illnesses, and have become the rule rather than the exception in treating health issues. In many farm environments, they are used liberally to compensate for overcrowding and unsanitary conditions.
According to the Soil Association, "Farm-animal MRSA is spreading like wildfire on intensive farms in continental Europe. In the Netherlands it already affects 39% of pigs and almost 50% of pig farmers. In Dutch hospitals 25% of all MRSA cases are now caused by the farm-animal strain, and farmers are no longer permitted in general wards without prior screening. It has been found in chickens, dairy cows and calves and in 20% of pork, 21% of chicken and 3% of beef. It has also been found in farm animals and people in Germany and Denmark from which we import large quantities of pork."
Because the government does not require farmers and farm owners to be accountable and responsible with animal management practices, these super-bacteria will continue to appear and will become more and more prevalent as time goes on.
The bottom line is, if people are going to eat meat, why cannot we have the simple assurance that our meat is raised in the most humane, sanitary, sustainable conditions possible? These assurances are for the sake of health and humane regard for animals, which should be of paramount consideration to everyone. Many farmers have been and are starting to use these preferred practices, and have been made aware of the dangers of producing meat in any other manner.
For more information, visit the UK's Soil Association web site.
The Pew Charitable Trusts has an interesting article on the subject of factory-farming and what it is doing to our health.
Also, check out Ethics and Animals for information on how animals are raised on the typical farm.