Gross: 'Superbugs,' other contaminants found in ground beef

Next time you pick up some ground beef at the local grocery store, make sure you cook it thoroughly once at home.

A new report by Consumer Reports shows how dangerous undercooked beef can be -- to the point where it could lead to multiple health issues, including blood and urinary tract infections.

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Researchers bought 300 packages of ground beef, totaling 458 pounds, from 26 cities across the country to come up with the data. All 458 pounds -- which the researchers referred to as "conventional beef", in which cows are fattened with grain and soy -- contained bacteria which indicated fecal contamination, Consumer Reports found.

Smaller amounts of the beef contained other kinds of bacteria, from C. perfringens, which Consumer Reports said causes almost a million cases of food poisoning yearly, to S. aureus, which can produce a toxin that can make one ill no matter how it's cooked.

The testing also revealed antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” in 18 percent of the conventionally-raised meat, while the same kind of bacteria is less likely to show up (9 percent) in “grass-fed organic” beef.

"Remember, when it's ground beef, you're taking it and grinding the bacteria from the surface of the beef into it," Consumer Reports' executive director for food safety and sustainability Urvashi Rangan told CBS. "So unlike a steak, you're really moving all that bacteria all around the beef."

Mike Apley, chair of the Antibiotic Resistance Working Group at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, told Consumer Reports that conventionally-raised meat isn’t the worst method and that going completely grass-fed could hurt the industry.

"If all cattle were grass-fed, we'd have less beef, and it would be less affordable," he said. "Since grass doesn't grow on pasture year-round in many parts of the country, feedlots evolved to make the most efficient use of land, water, fuel, labor, and feed."

The best way to avoid any illnesses with beef? Make sure to cook it to the standard internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Read more at Consumer Reports.

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