USDA sued over drug-resistant Salmonella contamination in meat

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(NaturalNews) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has failed us all by deliberately allowing meat tainted with antibiotic-resistant Salmonella and other bacteria to be sold at supermarkets nationwide. And at least one consumer group has said that enough is enough, recently filing a lawsuit against the federal agency for putting public health at risk.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has sued the USDA in federal court, demanding a response by the agency's Food Safety and Inspection Service to a three-year-old regulatory petition that it filed to address the bacteria issue. Numerous outbreaks have resulted in hundreds of illnesses and hospitalizations, as well as several deaths, and the USDA has yet to take a stand.

"The four strains of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella named in CSPI's 2011 petition--Heidelberg, Newport, Hadar, and Typhimurium--have been implicated in dozens of outbreaks linked to ground turkey burgers, ground beef, and other products," reads an announcement by CSPI.

Several of the outbreaks named in the suit were previously reported here at Natural News and include two separate outbreaks traced to Foster Farms chicken parts that were contaminated with an antibiotic-resistant form of Salmonella Heidelberg. Between the two outbreaks, more than 650 people fell ill, a situation that CSPI believes may not have occurred had the USDA done its job.

"USDA takes action only after people start becoming ill from these life-threatening antibiotic-resistant superbugs," stated CSPI food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal. "It is time for USDA to declare these dangerous resistant strains as adulterants and then require industry to conduct aggressive testing to keep meat and poultry contaminated with these strains out of the food supply, as it does with products contaminated with dangerous strains of E. coli."

GMO hack and USDA head Tom Vilsack apologizes for delay, then continues it for another 10 months

Responding to the complaint, current USDA head Tom Vilsack issued an apology to CSPI for his agency's failure to evaluate and address the issue, promising to come up with a plan. But according to CSPI, nearly 10 months have passed since Vilsack's apology and nothing has progressed in terms of stopping antibiotic-resistant superbugs from contaminating the food supply.

As you may recall, the Obama-appointed Vilsack is a former governor of Iowa who heavily promotes genetic engineering and so-called pharmaceutical crops. Vilsack is a huge supporter of factory farming and everything that goes with it these days, including animal cloning, biotechnology and corporate monoculture. In other words, his lack of urgency on this matter is hardly surprising.

"Vilsack has a glowing reputation as being a schill for agribusiness biotech giants like Monsanto," explains the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), citing Vilsack's extensive involvement in promoting corporate agricultural interests at the expense of public health.

"The biggest biotechnology industry group, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, named Vilsack Governor of the Year. He was also the founder and former chair of the Governor's Biotechnology Partnership."

Following CSPI's announcement of the lawsuit, a global coalition of organizations in defense of the public interest came forward to push for similar changes at the international level. Hailing from six continents, the coalition is petitioning the World Health Organization (WHO) to adopt new resolutions that will address the growing antibiotic-resistance epidemic, which is largely a product of overuse and abuse of antibiotics on factory farms.

"We ask the [USDA] almost every month about the status of the petition, and there is no sign that it's progressing," added DeWaal. "We've had multiple outbreaks from antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella targeted by the petition since we filed it. Evidence that antibiotic-resistant Salmonella poses a very real threat to consumers has only grown stronger."

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