Hidden dangers in your meat

Antibiotics in meat lead to rise in Superbugs

Published On: Jun 20 2012 10:14:06 AM EDT   Updated On: Jun 20 2012 12:47:35 PM EDT

You probably assume most antibiotics are prescribed to people. Not so. It's estimated that 80 percent of the antibiotics used in this country are given to animals to help them grow faster and to prevent disease in unsanitary conditions.

This is contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, according to Consumer Reports Jean Halloran. And if you get sick, you could be in trouble.

They're bacteria resistant to one or more antibiotics and they kill thousands of people a year.

She says it may be very difficult to find an antibiotic that will help you get well. It may even be impossible.

When Consumer Reports last tested chicken, two-thirds of the samples had harmful bacteria, and more than half of these bugs were resistant to antibiotics.

You can find meat that's been raised without antibiotics. In fact, at Whole Foods that's the only kind of meat for sale. But at other stores, it can be much harder to figure out what you're getting.

"Antibiotic Free," is one example. And the label "natural," while government-approved, has nothing to do with antibiotics.

More helpful labels are ones like "No Antibiotics Administered" and "No Antibiotics Ever." But even better are labels that also say "USDA Process Verified."

"Organic" is another sure bet for shoppers. All organic meat is raised without antibiotics. Consumer Reports found that meat raised without antibiotics doesn't necessarily cost a lot more than regular meat. Its shoppers found it at very reasonable prices in several stores.