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Staph in meat: Are US cattle and poultry over-drugged?

A new report warns that Staph bacteria are showing up in high rates at supermarkets, raising concerns about whether US meat and poultry industries rely too heavily on antibiotic drugs.

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Meat department manager Kevin Morlan arranges packages of meat at a Dahl's grocery store in Des Moines, Iowa, last month. A new report warns that Staph bacteria are showing up in high rates at supermarkets.

Charlie Neibergall/AP

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A new report, saying that risky forms of Staph bacteria are showing up in supermarkets at "unexpectedly high rates," is raising concerns about whether the US meat and poultry industries are relying too heavily on antibiotic drugs.

Nearly half of meat and poultry samples in the nationwide study — 47 percent — were contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that medical experts link to various human diseases. Of that amount, more than half the bacteria were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics, according to the study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix.

The group said its findings raise concerns that widespread use of antibiotics in animal feed makes industrial farms breeding grounds for drug-resistant bacteria that can move from animals to humans.

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