Superbugs and Food

Ask the Nutritionist

Q: What are "superbugs" and should I be concerned about them in my food?

A: Superbugs are bacteria that become resistant to the types of antibiotics used to treat the infections they cause. This leads to fewer drugs being effective against a certain infection. The numbers of resistant bacteria have been on the rise, and it may be attributed to some common farming practices in the U.S. Bacteria can get onto meat while it is being processed, and these bacteria become drug resistant because there are low-levels of antibiotics in the animals' feed.

The best way to avoid superbugs is to practice good food safety techniques. Make sure to wash your hands before and after handling raw meat, cook meat until it is done all the way through and do not wash raw meat in the sink, which can spread bacteria. Your immune system can be weakened during cancer treatment, so it is important to pay attention to proper food handling and general safety, such as keeping your kitchen clean and avoiding cross-contamination through good hand washing and using a separate cutting board for meats and vegetables.

To further help avoid exposure to superbugs, look for locally raised organic or grass-fed meat and other animal proteins. To find local meat, search websites such as Local Harvest or check out your local farmers' markets. Try to make at least one main meal a week meatless to boost your intake of healthy plant-based foods. Try a delicious vegetarian recipe, such as this butternut squash chili.


Self Magazine: Dangerous Superbugs in Your Dinner 

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