Consumer Reports, the policy and action arm of Consumers Union, recently tested and analyzed148  pork chop and 50 ground pork samples in six U.S. cities, and claim to have found significant rates of yersinia enterocolitica, a bacterium linked to food poisoning.  According to, the study also revealed that most of the Yersinia was resistant to “medically important antibiotics.”

A key finding of the study stated that “[y]ersinia enterocolitica was found in 69 percent of the tested pork samples.”  Lesser-known bacteria, such as Yersinia, are believed to cause foodborne illness”in nearly 100,000 Americans a year.

The National Pork Producers Council responded in their written statement to Consumers Report by saying that the report and “its ‘science’…wouldn’t stand up to even elementary scrutiny.”  Furthermore, “[t]his report was obviously written to support Consumers Union’s claim that antibiotics use in food animal production is the major cause of antibiotic resistance, or treatment failures, in human medicine,” said Dr. Scott Hurd, former U.S. Department of Agriculture deputy undersecretary for food safety and currently with the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

A third test conducted on 240 additional pork products by Consumer Reports to detect for the presence of ractopamine, a Food and Drug Administration-approved feeding supplement, revealed “low levels” of the supplement.

According to CBS, Dr. Hurd explained that

The average person would have to eat over 700 pounds of pork every day for their entire life in order to get enough ractopamine to be above that acceptable level by FDA.

Hurd says the sample size of the Consumer Reports study is too small to draw any broader conclusions. But he adds that germs can be found in nearly everything we eat, so consumers should always be careful when handling meat. That means cooking meat thoroughly and washing your hands.

The National Pork Board also weighed in on the issue, stating that the pork industry and its producers are devoted to “producing safe and wholesome products in a socially responsible way.” Additionally, according to, the US pork industry has strongly advocated for the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS), which was established in 1996 in coalition with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the FDA and the USDA to “to track any resistant bacteria in humans, animals and retail meats.”

Posted 12/3/2012