‘Antibiotic-free’ pork has the same rate of antibiotic-resistant bacteria

We really do try to Pollan it up and do the whole “eat food, not too much, mostly plants” bit. But “mostly plants” obviously means “sometimes bacon.” And maybe the farmers’ market wasn’t open, so we bought that bacon at the store. Oh, but it was good bacon! “Raised without antibiotics” bacon! That’s something, right?

Nope, not really, according to a new study from a group of University of Iowa scientists. This group tested 395 samples of pork from 36 stores in Iowa, Minnesota, and New Jersey. Of those, 6.6 percent had creepy, drug-resistant staph bacteria (shorthand: MRSA) on them. And there was no difference, statistically, between the normal pork products and the ones raised with alternative, antibiotic-free methods.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are usually associated with factory farms where animals get pumped full of drugs to keep them from keeling over. But apparently they don’t have a monopoly, and being raised on a non-industrial farm is no guarantee of a clean piggie. Still, it’s not like MRSA is the only part of the industrial food system that’s dysfunctional, so it’s still worth going for sustainably farmed meat. Also, for what it’s worth, veggie bacon almost certainly does not have MRSA! Or, for an actually delicious (seasonal!) greasy treat, I recommend roasted sunchokes.