What's really hiding in your meat

I hope you're not about to eat, because today's report just might make you lose your appetite -- especially if meat is on the menu.

Most U.S. meat is positively filthy -- literally crawling with germs, including some of the nastiest bugs of all: disease-causing fecal bacteria and powerful drug-resistant superbugs.

In one recent study of the meat industry, 87 percent of 480 meat samples collected by the U.S. government from across the nation tested positive for enterococcus.

Those are fecal germs -- germs that come from poop.

The only thing worse than fecal bugs, is, of course, drug-resistant fecal bugs -- and U.S. meat has plenty of them, too, with half the meats in the meat industry study testing positive for superbugs.

That includes 81 percent of ground turkey samples, along with 69 percent of pork chops, 55 percent of ground beef and 39 percent of chicken.

Chicken might have the lower number. But don't be fooled -- chicken also has an increasing level of the most dangerous bugs of all. Back in 2002, less than half of all salmonella strains found on chicken were resistant to meds. A decade later, 74 percent of the salmonella samples on chicken were drug-resistant.

There are two main reasons for these alarming trends.

The first is that the meat industry factory farms are filthy places where germs can spread like wildfire. And the second is that, because they are so filthy, the animals are pumped full of antibiotics to keep them from dropping dead on the spot.

The drugs also serve the dual purpose of fattening them up faster.

It's gotten so out of hand that more than 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the entire nation are used on animals -- essentially turning meat industry factory farms into breeding grounds for new and increasingly powerful strains of bacteria.

(Antibiotics aren't the only drugs hidden in your chicken dinner. Or even the worst. The truth will shock you. Click here to read the whole story.)

One way to protect yourself and your family from these germs is to make sure that your own meats come from animals that aren't given antibiotics -- and that means making the switch to organics.

Ideally, choose meats from small local operations that have tighter control over the process so they can keep everything clean.

Of course, that will minimize your risk -- but it won't make it disappear completely. Germs can turn up on any piece of meat, even organic meat, so be sure to cook everything to the proper temperature.

In addition, don't allow raw meat to touch other foods, wash utensils and dishes that come into contact with raw meat and always wash your hands after handling it.

That's a lot of work. So much that it might be tempting to turn into a vegetarian -- but vegetables can actually be every bit as risky. In fact, the leading source of food poisoning in the United States isn't meat at all -- it's leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach, according to the CDC.

Since vegetables are often eaten raw, limiting your risk means avoiding the ones most likely to be contaminated -- and once again, that means avoiding the stuff that comes off the Big Ag assembly line (especially the pre-washed, pre-bagged stuff).

Grow your own if you can. And if you can't, buy organics from small, local farms you trust to keep clean.