Superbug, The Other White Meat

Superbug, The Other White Meat

News: MRSA found in nearly half of factory farmed pigs AND the pig workers.

“Examining CAFOs [Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations aka factory farms] scattered in Iowa and Illinois, Smith and her team found the MRSA [Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus] strain in 49 percent of pigs and 45 percent of the workers who tend them.”

Study source: US National Library of Medicine
News source: Grist Environmental News

The “superbug” MRSA is a bacterium that causes infections. It’s tougher to treat than most strains of staphylococcus aureus (staph) because MRSA is resistant to commonly used antibiotics. According to WebMD:

“Rates of infection in hospitals, especially intensive care units, are rising throughout the world. In U.S. hospitals, MRSA causes more than 60% of staph infections.”

“But MRSA is also showing up in healthy people who have not been living in the hospital. This type of MRSA is called community-associated MRSA, or CA-MRSA.” [...]

“Studies have shown that rates of CA-MRSA infection are growing fast. One study of children in south Texas found that cases of CA-MRSA had a 14-fold increase between 1999 and 2001.”

Grist explains why MRSA has developed in CAFOs and the ramifications of MRSA in our food supply:

“MRSA kills something close to 20,000 Americans every year — more than AIDS.”

“A real reckoning with the MRSA-CAFO link could deliver a devastating blow to the meat industry. To keep animals alive while stuffed together by the thousands, standing in their own collected waste, it’s evidently necessary to dose them with lots of antibiotics. CAFO conditions destroy animal’s immune systems; antibiotics pick up the slack. Take them away, and the CAFO model might crumble.”

But the scariest part is probably this:

“neither the FDA, USDA nor CDC had launched systematic testing of the U.S. meat supply for MRSA.”

cute pig

There are good reasons not to eat pigs:

  • Pigs are intelligent and social animals. They have the intelligence of a three-year-old human and they are playful and social like dogs.
  • Pork is high in cholesterol. E Coli is found in pork.
  • There are plenty of imitation bacon products available that taste similar to real bacon.

But now, with MRSA, there’s really no reason to eat pigs at all. And if you’re not persuaded, go image search “MRSA” >>

6 Responses to Superbug, The Other White Meat

  1. Not testing for MRSA is at the very least a total, irresponsible, failure of the government to it’s responsibilities of “food” safety…

    But it’s appropriate that such an evil concept of imprisoning animals, (for life) – would show it’s ugly head of justice in the way of a “flesh eating disease”.

    I hope this is a pinion that brings the whole stinking monster to it’s knees.

    BTW – the piggy with the painted nose is just so cute…

    ~ Recent blog post: Stop Feeding Cows, Pigs & Chickens… Feed People Instead ~

  2. I mentioned this story to a few friends yesterday. None recognized the word “mersa” (the pronunciation of MRSA). They had heard “superbug” and they had some vague notion of a flesh-eating bacteria, but they didn’t identify MRSA as a threat.

    I think it’s interesting that people readily respond to a mention of AIDS with more fear and anger than to a mention of MRSA, even though MRSA kills more Americans and is far more easily spread than AIDS.

    We have to get this information out there. People need to understand the real threat of factory farming and meat-eating. They have no clue how destructive it is to humans, the planet, and animals.

  3. I work in a medical lab in the microbiology department. I see MRSA every day. It’s rampant.

    I love pigs. They are so damned cute, but it’s gotten to where I can’t look at a picture of a pig without getting upset because of all the abuses they suffer.

    ~ Recent blog post: More ukulele music ~

  4. @OP: MRSA are also social organisms.

    @Eccentric Vegan: “MRSA kills more Americans and is far more easily spread than AIDS.”

    MRSA is resistant to antibiotics, NOT ovens. Also, if 50% of pigs living in close quarters, how can you say it is more easily communicable than AIDs? Meat consumption is going up and MRSA rates are falling.
    http://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/statistics/index.html
    http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/oce071/oce20071d.pdf

    Note: The second link is USDA meat consumption trend graph.

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