Reporting Susan Koeppen
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As more of us try to eat healthy, we’re replacing ground beef with ground turkey.
It can be a better choice, but an investigation by Consumer Reports found ground turkey can also be a breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Dina Fleischman has been trying to cook healthier meals with ground turkey.
“I make meatloaf with it, and meatballs, meat sauce for spaghetti. I will use turkey, instead of beef, for any recipe that calls for beef,” said Fleishman.
But a Consumer Reports investigation, led by food-safety expert Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., found that when it comes to ground turkey, you could be getting more than you bargained for.
“Overall, 90 percent of the samples we analyzed had one or more of the five bacteria we looked for,” said Rangan. “Adding to that was the fact that most of these bacteria proved resistant to antibiotics.”
Consumer Reports shipped 257 samples of ground turkey to an outside lab. There scientists created a broth with each sample, to analyze.
More than half of the samples tested positive for the fecal contaminants enterococcus and E. coli, the majority of which were resistant to multiple antibiotics.
“Some of these bacteria can cause food poisoning and many infections,” said Rangan. “The good news is we found less antibiotic-resistance in bacteria from turkeys raised without antibiotics.”
Using antibiotics in farm animals was once touted as a great innovation to prevent disease and promote growth.
“What we now realize is that giving turkeys and other animals antibiotics is accelerating the growth of drug-resistant superbugs,” Rangan said. “When people are sickened with these, they can be much harder to treat.”
To kill any bacteria that might be present in ground turkey, you need to cook it thoroughly to 165 degrees.
The National Turkey Federation issued a press release disputing Consumer Reports findings calling them “alarmist.”
But late today Consumer Reports said they stand by their findings.
As for whether there’s any way to minimize your risk: Consumer Reports says pick ground turkey labeled either “raised without antibiotics” or “organic.”
This meat would come from turkeys that have never been fed antibiotics.