Another Reason to Eat Free-Range Poultry: Less Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

A survey of ground turkey performed by Consumer Reports found that samples that came from birds which were not routinely fed antibiotics had lower instances of contamination by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Consumer Reports researchers analyzed 257 samples of raw, ground turkey and ground turkey patties from retailers across the country. The samples included national brands, store brands and organic varieties. The turkey was then tested for five types of bacteria: enterococcus, E.coli, staphylococcus aureus, campylobacter and salmonella.

Results showed that over 90 percent of the samples contained one or more of the five types of bacteria tested. However, the turkey labeled “organic,” “no antibiotics,” and “raised without antibiotics” contained less bacteria strains that were resistant to antibiotics, compared to commercially-raised turkeys.

Not surprisingly, results also found that the great majority of the antibiotics that certain bacteria strains were resistant to were the very antibiotics approved for regular use in healthy turkeys, to “promote growth and prevent disease.”

Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Director of the Food Safety and Sustainability Group at Consumer Reports, summarizes, “our findings strongly suggest that there is a direct relationship between the routine use of antibiotics in animal production and increased antibiotic resistance in bacteria on ground turkey. It’s very concerning that antibiotics fed to turkeys are creating resistance to antibiotics used in human medicine.”

He continues, “humans don’t consume antibiotics every day to prevent disease and neither should healthy animals. Prudent use of antibiotics should be required to stem the public health crisis generated from the reduced effectiveness of antibiotics.”

Consumers Union, the advocacy chapter of the Consumer Reports organization, urges the FDA to phase out the use of antibiotics in healthy livestock, and instead save their use for the treatment of animals that are actually sick. It also urges the disclosure by drug companies and animal feed mills of the types of antibiotics used, and the purposes they are used for.

Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union, says, “the current FDA guidance is not adequate – it simply calls for voluntary changes by industry. This will not get the job done.”

These findings by Consumer Reports give health-conscious people just one more reason to steer clear of commercially-raised poultry. Organic, free-range birds, although they may be pricier, bring significant benefits to the table.

chickensFree-range chickens and turkeys are raised outdoors on a pasture, and allowed to eat the diet that nature intended – grass, bugs, etc. They are not, like commercially-raised birds, kept in tiny, cramped spaces, denied the light of day, and pumped full of antibiotics, growth hormones, and low-quality feed that is often genetically modified.

Aside from the issue of antibiotic resistance, if ‘we are what we eat,’ doesn’t it make sense to eat healthy, organic meat that comes from healthy animals given the opportunity to enjoy their lives, as opposed to miserable animals that have been chemically treated at every stage of their development?

Note: When preparing any poultry – even organic – make sure to cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, to ensure optimal safety.

-The Alternative Daily



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