Research – Is Our Ground Meat Safe to Eat?

Consumer Reports

Americans love meat—especially ground meat.

We shape it into burgers, meatballs, and meatloaf; stir it into chili and pasta sauce; and stuff it into peppers, lasagna, and tacos. Americans like it so much that in 2021 alone, we purchased more than $13 billion worth of ground beef, turkey, pork, and chicken.

But our love of ground meat comes at a price: It’s a leading cause of food poisoning. Since 2018, 11 outbreaks of illness have been traced back to raw meat, sickening a reported 1,264 people—and at least eight of them involved ground meat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To assess the current state of the nation’s ground meat supply, Consumer Reports recently tested 351 packages of ground beef, pork, chicken, and turkey purchased at stores throughout the country. (Read more about how we tested (PDF).) What we found was alarming.

Almost a third of the ground chicken packages we tested contained salmonella. We also found those bacteria in a few samples of ground beef, pork, and turkey. Particularly worrisome: Every single strain of salmonella was resistant to at least one antibiotic (see “Why Superbugs Are in Your Meat,” below).

CR also found a strain of E. coli in a sample of ground beef that is so dangerous that we immediately alerted the Department of Agriculture to our findings, triggering a recall of more than 28,000 pounds of the meat from major grocery chains in seven Western states.

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