The New York Times today has a fascinating piece about a really important study being carried out in Flagstaff, Ariz. Researcher Lance Price of George Washington University is taking advantage of the rapidly dropping cost of genomic analysis to match antibiotic resistant germs in grocery-store meat to those found in urinary tract infections reported by local patients. His goal is to see just how many of these fairy common infections can in fact be traced to the grocery supply chain, and thus how significantly commercial meat processing is contributing to the problem of antibiotic resistance.
I expect that Dr. Price will find that our meat supply is in fact a huge vector for dangerous germs. Others may be expecting to see little connection — to instead see support for the idea that eating meat with these pathogens isn’t really the most effective way to convey the germs into the human ecosystem. However it turns out, it’s good to see actual data being gathered and analyzed. Real facts will be much more valuable than biases and suspicions in developing strategies to deal with this health risk.