The average American consumes nearly 200 pounds of meat each year. While that has contributed to a rise in obesity, heart disease and related illnesses, what is alarming is that most meat is riddled with staph bacteria, including the hard-to-kill, potentially lethal MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) strain.

The Details: Meat, bought at the grocery store, is infused with veterinary medicines, antibiotics, heavy metals and artificial hormones. But nothing is as dangerous as the bacteria that it carries. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that half of grocery store meat that was tested, harbored staph bacteria.

The Risks: Having bacteria present in meat means it’s going to make you sick. MRSA reportedly kills about 19,000 people in America each year. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 60,000 Americans die from the antibiotic-resistant disease.

The Alternatives: Reduce the consumption of meat by trying Meatless Mondays. If you are going to eat meat, purchase sustainably-raised meat products such as organic, Food Alliance-certified, or grass-fed, because these eco-labels directly prohibit the use of antibiotics, cloned and GE animals, and encourage production systems that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Simona is a journalist who has worked with several leading publications in India over the last 17 years, writing on lifestyle topics and the arts, besides interviewing celebrities. She made the switch to public relations and headed the division as PR Manager at ITC Hotels’ flagship property, the ITC Grand Chola, but has since returned to her first love, journalism. Now she writes on food, which she is sincerely passionate about and wellness, which she finds fascinating and full of surprises. When she isn’t writing, she is busy playing the role of co-founder and communications director of The Bicycle Project, a six-year-old charity initiative that empowers tribal children in rural areas, while addressing the issue of urban waste.