More MRSA found in the food supply made the news again last month. A study by Cambridge University staff found a new strain of MRSA in milk from the United Kingdom. MRSA has previously been found in meats, pork and on pig farms but it’s presence in milk is a more recent finding.
The study published in Eurosurveillance shows that superbug bacteria are spreading to other foods related to the livestock industry. Given that the industry is the biggest user of antibiotic drugs, it’s no surprise that more and more antibiotic resistant bacteria are showing up in livestock.
The heavy use of antibiotics is needed because animals on factory farms are kept in cramped quarters where infections can run rampant. This high use of antibiotics creates superbugs like MRSA, and these pathogenic bacteria can reside on both animals and farm workers, which then contaminate our food supply. While such practices keep the prices of milk and meat products low, the quality and safety of our dairy and meat products suffers.
Pathogenic bacteria and pasteurization
Experts say there’s no risk of MRSA bacteria surviving in pasteurized milk. Pasteurization is meant to kill most of the potentially pathogenic bacteria that can be in milk, including Staph aureus (some strains of which can be MRSA). There should be minimal chance of getting infected by drinking milk. Staph bacteria are commonly tested for in milk because they can make a toxin that can cause sickness when ingested. However, the main lesson from this study is the degrading quality of our food and the unsustainable practices used in the livestock industry.
Your food choices do matter
Industrial scale farming results in sicker animals and less nutritious and lower quality foods. Such foods are certainly cheaper and pasteurization should kill any dangerous bacteria in the milk. But wouldn’t you rather drink better tasting, more nutritious milk from an organic, pasture raised cow, even if it costs a little bit more?
You can do your part to improve the farming standards and increase food quality by voting with your pocketbook. Buying more organic, local and natural foods will make such foods more available and more affordable. The livestock industry will change its ways to provide higher quality foods if we as consumers create more demand for it. Even if industry change happens slowly, you’ll enjoy immediate benefits to your health by making more natural food choices.
To your best health,