Just how healthy is your ground turkey?

April 30, 2013 8:21:32 PM PDT
Trying to serve up healthy meals? More and more people are opting for ground turkey instead of beef. Even Burger King has started serving up turkey burgers. Ground turkey can be a better choice. But a just-released Consumer Reports' investigation reveals ground turkey can also be a breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Dina Fleischman has been trying to cook healthier meals with ground turkey.

"I make meat loaf with it and meatballs, meat sauce for spaghetti. I will use turkey, instead of beef, for any recipe that calls for beef," Fleischman said.

But a Consumer Reports investigation shows that you when you're talking turkey, you could be getting more than you bargained for.

"Overall, 90 percent of the samples we analyzed had one or more of the five bacteria we looked for. Adding to that was the fact that most of these bacteria proved resistant to antibiotics," said Urvashi with Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports shipped 257 samples of ground turkey to an outside lab. There, scientists created a broth with each sample, to analyze.

More than half of the samples tested positive for the fecal contaminants enterococcus and E. coli, the majority of which were resistant to multiple antibiotics.

"Some of these bacteria can cause food poisoning and many infections. The good news is we found less antibiotic resistance in bacteria from turkeys raised without antibiotics," Rangan said.

Using antibiotics in farm animals was once touted as a great innovation to prevent disease and promote growth.

"What we now realize is that giving turkeys and other animals antibiotics is accelerating the growth of drug-resistant super bugs. When people are sickened with these, they can be much harder to treat," Rangan said.

The National Turkey Federation disagrees, saying the report in question cited alleged instances of antibiotics misuse, but disregarded FDA's own conclusion that judicious use of approved antibiotics in animal agriculture does not pose a risk to animals or people.

As for bacteria, to kill any that might be present in ground turkey, you need to cook it thoroughly, to 165 degrees.

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