Nightly News   |  May 01, 2013

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in ground turkey

A new Consumer Reports investigation has found ground turkey could be a breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant bacteria. More than half of the samples tested nationwide contained fecal bacteria, including E. coli.  NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>>> health news tonight includes this. it has long been marketed as an alternative to hamburger. ground turkey . but a new investigation by consumer reports has today found that some packages of ground turkey could be a breeding ground for some dangerous bacteria. our report on this tonight from nbc's tom costello.

>> reporter: ohio school van driver diana goodpastor hopes she'll never be as sick as she was two years ago when she was hospitalized for five days with salmonella poisoning.

>> it was very serious. thank goodness to a good doctor. she saved my life. there is no doubt about it.

>> reporter: tests showed she likely contracted salmonella from a turkey burger. now a consumer reports analysis of turkey bought nationwide has found more than half the samples contained fecal bacteria including e. coli . 90% contained potentially dangerous bacteria. most disturbing, nearly all were resistant to common antibiotics. farm animals are regularly fed antibiotics to keep them healthy.

>> the problem with feeding low level antibiotics on a daily basis is you are increasing the number of super bugs that can be found.

>> reporter: the turkey industry stay criticized the study, its findings and the small sample size and insists turkey is safe. the fecal matter found is generally not harmful and giving birds antibiotics makes sense.

>> they use it judiciously to protect the health of the flocks. so, no. that use does not raise a concern.

>> reporter: the fda is concerned about drug resistant bacteria dangerous to humans and animals and is rolling out a three-year program to reduce the amount of antibiotics in animal feed . meanwhile, to ensure the ground turkey you and your family eat is safe, experts recommend cooking it within a few days of buying it, storing it at 40 degrees or cooler or freezing it. cook ground turkey to at least 165 degrees. always wash your hands and counter tops and consider buying organic or nonantibiotic turkey which contain far less antibiotic-resistant bacteria.