The January 2013 issue of Consumer Reports magazine features an article claiming antibiotic-resistant bacteria and traces of ractopamine were found during an analysis of pork chop and ground-pork samples from around the United States. The article is entitled, “What’s in that pork?”

According to Consumer Reports, 69% of the tested pork samples contained a bacteria called Yersinia enterocolitica.  Additionally, salmonella, staphylococcus aureus, and listeria monocytogenes were said to be found in 3-7% of the samples. Eleven percent of the samples contained enterococcus, according to the magazine.

Ground pork was more likely than pork chops to test positive for pathogens in the Consumer Reports tests.  The magazine indicated that some of the bacteria that were found were resistant to multiple drugs or classes of drugs.

One-fifth of the 240 pork products that were analyzed via a separate test were found to have low levels of ractopamine. Consumer Reports repeatedly referred to ractopamine as a “drug.”  The magazine said ractopamine is “given to as many as 60 to 80 percent of pigs raised n the U.S., by one estimate.”

Dave Warner, director of communications for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is quoted in the article emphasizing that the U.S. pork industry uses ractopamine at levels that meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and international food safety standards. Consumer Reports acknowledged in the article that ractopamine was found at detectable levels in about 20% of the 240 samples, but all had less than 5 parts per billion (ppb). “That’s well below the FDA’s limit of 50 ppb in muscle tissue and the international limit of 10 ppb adopted in July 2012 by the Codex Alimentarius Comission, a program of the United Nations,” the magazine states.

The article goes on to advise consumers to discourage the routine use of antibiotics in agriculture by buying organic pork. 

Read the Consumer Reports article online at www.consumerreports.org.