Bacterial news flashes

From NPR’s food blog, The Salt

By
April 18, 2013

From National Public Radio’s food blog, The Salt, come these food-safety tidbits: Sticking food in the freezer may not kill as many germs as you’d hoped. Scientists have mapped the many microbes that hang out on our produce. And yes, hard data is now in that the overuse of antibiotics in livestock is directly connected to the rise in antibiotic resistance in humans.

In other words, frozen hamburger meat can still harbor live E. coli bacteria. (Yes, unfortunately: an outbreak of E. coli has been traced to frozen food.) “Freezing does slow down the microbes that cause food to spoil, but it’s pretty much useless for killing dangerous bugs,” wrote Nancy Shute. (In fact, freezing preserves germs so well that scientists have tried to track down the deadly 1918 influenza virus by digging up the frozen bodies of people who died from it.) Want to be sure the germs are dead? Use heat, not cold.

Meanwhile, scientists have been pondering the fact that — just like humans — plants have their own microbiomes, or colonies of bacteria. “The good news: Most of the bacterial horde is benign,” noted Shute.

As for the antibiotics, the Environmental Working Group recently issued an analysis of a report released in February by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System. Here’s how Eliza Barclay summed it up for The Salt:

The tests detected several nasty bugs that cause disease in humans — salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli. As if the presence of these microbes weren’t enough, the researchers found that a lot of the bacteria were strains resistant to antibiotics, making them even more dangerous for humans. The implications were significant — that the bacteria had become resistant to antibiotics back at the farm because farmers were overusing them.
Subscribe
Comments
There are no comments on this item
Add a comment

Think before you type

Culinate welcomes comments that are on-topic, clean, and courteous. For the benefit of the community we reserve the right to delete comments that contain advertising, personal attacks, profanity, or which are thinly disguised attempts to promote another website.

Please enter your comment

Format: Bare URLs are automatically linked; use this style: [http://www.example.com "place text to be linked here"] for prettier links. You may specify *bold* or _italic_ text. No HTML please.

Please identify yourself

Not a member? Sign up!

Please prove that you’re not a computer


Advertisement
Our Table

The Joy of Cooking app

A new tool for the kitchen

The latest in our collection of cooking apps.

Subscribe
Graze: Bites from the Site
First Person

The secret sharer

A father’s legacy

The Culinate Interview

Mollie Katzen

The vegetarian-cooking pioneer

Reviews

Down South

Barbecue, tamales, cocktails, and more

Local Flavors

A winter romesco sauce

Good on everything

Editor’s Choice