The Environmental Working Group this week said an analysis of a report issued by the Food and Drug Administration in February actually points to "startlingly high percentages of supermarket meat containing antibiotic-resistant bacteria."
The cause, they say, is unnecessary antibiotic usage by factory farms that produce a portion of the 8.9 billion animals raised for food in the U.S. every year.
The EWG analysis, based on data collected by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System, found that store-bought meat tested in 2011 contained antibiotic-resistance bacteria in 81% of raw ground turkey, 69% of raw pork chops, 55% of raw ground beef and 39% of raw chicken parts.
However, the National Pork Producers isn't buying the analysis. The organization says that the data is selective and incomplete. They note that 2000 to 2010 data from the NARMS shows a low incidence of pathogenic bacteria on meat.
"Pork producers use antibiotics in targeted ways, under a veterinarian's supervision, to protect public health and the health of their animals and to produce safe food," said NPPC President Randy Spronk. "The data don't show what groups opposed to modern food-animal production claim; they continue to distort information to fit their agenda to end modern agriculture."
EWG's report comes just in time for reauthorization of the Animal Drug User Fee Act, legislation that authorizes the FDA to collect fees for certain animal drug applications. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association supports the legislation, noting that it improves the availability and safety of drugs used for animals, and a greater array of products.
But, NPPC says many groups that oppose antibiotic use in food animals also oppose the ADUFA legislation in effort to minimize the availability of animal pharmaceutical applications.
“Taking care of our animals to produce safe food starts with Congress passing ADUFA," Spronk added.
2011 NARMS Retail Meat Annual Report
EWG Meat and Antibiotics Report 2013