Consumer Reports: Buying better meat

About 23,000 Americans die each year from antibiotic-resistant infections. The overuse of antibiotics in farm animals along with the conditions that animals are raised create an environment for bacteria to develop and spread. Resistant bacteria are turning up in the meat and seafood we eat.

Consumer Reports’ tests over the past three years have found superbugs in 57 percent of the uncooked samples of chicken inspected, 83 percent of the turkey, 14 percent of the beef, and 14 percent of the shrimp.

Consumer Reports says that the best meat and poultry practices ban the use of all antibiotics and other drugs for growth promotion and disease prevention in healthy animals. But shopping for meat raised without antibiotics can be confusing. Take the “natural” label; it means only that the cut of meat doesn’t contain artificial colors or additives and was minimally processed. It has nothing to do with whether antibiotics or other drugs were routinely used.

Consumer Reports says look for the “organic” label, which certifies the animal was raised without antibiotics. You can also look for labels with these terms — “no antibiotics,” “no antibiotics ever,” or “never given antibiotics.”

All meat sold at Whole Foods is raised without antibiotics. So is the meat served at Chipotle Mexican Grill and all but the deli turkey sold at Panera Bread. In the supermarket, brands of meat and poultry raised without antibiotics are becoming more widespread.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars and trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.

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