Consumer Reports: Lower Bacteria Count in Organic Grass Fed Beef

Three hundred samples of raw ground beef from stores nationwide were recently tested by Consumer Reports for harmful bacteria. In “The Safest Beef to Buy,” a recent article in Consumer Reports On Health (October, 2015), this nonprofit, independent organization which provides advice on “goods, services, health, and personal finance” (and accepts no advertising in its publications), noted that “a higher bacterial presence” was found in conventional beef, which was “twice as likely to contain bacteria that are resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics.”  (Consumer Reports’ testing and reporting on the safety of beef was, in fact, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.)

Noting that meat is a common source of food poisoning in the United States, where consumers “bought more than 7 billion (yes, billion) pounds of ground brief” in 2014, Consumer Reports recommends purchasing “organic grass-fed beef, which tends to have a lower bacteria count and less antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and comes from animals raised in more humane condition.”  Warning that infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria “can be difficult to treat and are a major public health problem,” the organization also advises that ground beef should always be cooked to medium (160 degrees F).

We previously reported that it’s been estimated in one year anywhere from 17,800,000 to 24,600,000 pounds of antibiotics, or approximately 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States, are fed to livestock. The results of the recent analysis by Consumer Reports of raw ground beef is a reminder of the continuing concern for this too common practice in industrial agriculture to feed livestock antibiotics.

Further, Consumer Reports’ advice to purchase “organic grass-fed beef” is also bolstered by our earlier post concerning a thorough review of the scientific research spanning three decades which focused upon the differences in nutritional quality between grass-fed and grain-fed cattle. Agriculture experts at California State U (Chico) and University of California (Davis), who carefully reviewed the scientific research, confirmed that grass-fed beef is by far superior nutritionally to grain-fed beef.

Eatwild maintains an easy to use directory of more than 1400 pasture based farms in the United States and Canada (producing products including beef, chicken, turkey, pork & lamb) and which raise their livestock on pasture from birth to market. And it should be noted, that in addition to health benefits for the consumer, raising animals on pasture instead of factory farms, when properly managed, is a net benefit to the environment.

(Frank W. Barrie, 9/21/15)

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