Prior posts have noted the unfortunate tendency in much of the world, including the U.S., to over prescribed antibiotics (even for conditions in which antibiotics are of no use whatsoever [e.g., viral infections]), resulting in disease-causing organisms that are resistant to many (if not almost all) antibiotics. A similar problem has been long noted with reference to the common practice of feeding antibiotics to cattle because it helps them to grow faster; this practice provides a pool of resistant organisms that can spread to and infect humans, again with organisms resistant to antibiotics. See, for example, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/antibiotics/FL00075, http://www.aafp.org/fpr/20000300/01.html, and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1240925/pdf/ehp0110-a00396.pdf.
Adding to this field of knowledge is a recent study showing that some bacteria found on grocery store meat are resistant to many antibiotics. Researchers examined 136 meat samples from 26 grocery stores in Illinois, Florida, California, Arizona, and Washington D.C. High levels of Staphylococcus aureus (S.Aureus) bacteria were found in the meat. S. Aureus causes hundreds of thousands of infections in the United States every year, ranging from skin infections to respiratory infections like pneumonia. A measure of the severity of the problem is that Staph infections kill more people in the U.S. each year than HIV, so we are not talking a few folks getting "the runs" or problems of minor concern.
The researchers found that in 96% of the meats with staph bacteria the bacteria were resistant to at least one type of antibiotic, and 52% were resistant to three or more types. Figures like these begin to remind one of MRSA (see prior posts). Of all the types of meats where bacteria was resistant to three or more antibiotics in the study, turkey was the most resistant, followed by pork, beef and then chicken. Researchers noted that they were uncertain why turkey had the most resistant organisms.
With proper cooking these organisms can be killed. However, problems arise because once they are brought into the kitchen, they contaminate the individuals and many surfaces. Researchers are concerned that even washing surfaces and hands will not adequate address the problem, assuming such is done.
The study can be found at http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/04/14/cid.cir181.abstract?sid=62608a03-3335-4095-853d-9381988a5985.
You won't have to deal with grocery store problems if you grow your own chickens: http://getplansforchickencoops.com/plans-for-chicken-coops/