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Is organic meat safer?

Consumer Reports News: September 10, 2012 04:08 PM

An article out last week about organic food argued, among other things, that while organic meat does have lower levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria than conventionally raised meat, that really doesn't mean much since bacteria are killed during cooking anyway. Our response: Hogwash.

If that were true, "we would not have had 136 illnesses and one death from antibiotic-resistant salmonella in ground turkey last year, or an estimated tens of millions of food-borne illnesses every year," wrote Jean Halloran, director of food-policy initiatives for Consumer Reports, in a letter to the editor published today in the New York Times.

"Unfortunately, bacteria survive," Halloran says. "Most cooks do not treat their kitchen like a Level 4 biohazard facility. The cook may use the same knife on raw meat and salad greens. The chicken from the grill may still be a bit pink in the middle, the beef burger rare."

That rift between real-world cooking practices and the controlled world of lab studies makes organic meat the safer choice for consumers, according to Halloran.

See our report "How Safe Is That Bird?" And see our earlier blog "Don't Give Up On Organic Food".

Jamie Kopf

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