Organic Meat May Carry Higher Parasite Risk

Animals more likely to meet bugs in free-range environments


While there are a lot of reasons to buy organic, recent research indicates that organic meat may carry a higher risk of parasites.

According to an article in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, “the new trend in the production of free-range, organically raised meat could increase the risk of Toxoplasma gondii contamination of meat.”

According to the study, free-range chickens are 17 to 100 percent more likely to carry toxoplasmosis parasites than chickens raised indoors.

While it may be more likely in organic meat, because giving pigs and chickens access to less confined, more animal-friendly environments means they are more likely to come in contact with parasites, toxoplasmosis can come from conventionally raised meats or unwashed vegetables as well. The major culprit, according to My Health News Daily, is undercooking, and the foods with the greatest chance of carrying toxoplasmosis include “raw ground beef or rare lamb; unpasteurized goat's milk’ locally produced cured, dried or smoked meat; and raw oysters, clams or mussels.”

Toxoplasmosis also comes from cat feces, and as many as one in five people may carry the parasites in the U.S., but few people have symptoms. It’s mainly a threat to pregnant women and people with weak immune systems.

The researchers say the best defense against the parasite is cooking, and pork, lamb, veal or beef should be cooked to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, while ground meat and wild game should be cooked to 160. They specify that microwave cooking might not kill the parasites.

According to Douglas Powell, professor of food safety at Kansas State University, there’s no perfect solution that will allow people to avoid parasites.

“Whatever food-production system we come up with, some ‘bugs’ will find a way to adapt and flourish. So the key is continual vigilance,” he said.
 


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3 Comments

LorenaJoy's picture

According to the study, free-range chickens are 17 to 100 percent more likely to carry toxoplasmosis parasites than chickens raised indoors????? And boys and girls watch out for them free range raw oysters, clams or mussels!!! Anybody can write tripe, just don't swallow it. Its full of BS.

David Walker's picture

Little touchy aren't we RaiderRob? How dare anyone write a story that says anything negative about organic food?? So no one has ever gotten ill from organic food - Really???
Your post contains typical over-hyped information on organic food and disparages conventionally raised food that is without any scientific substantiation ("pumped full of mercury and anti-biotics"). Mercury occurs in the environment - some natural and some from pollution - and its most a problem in fish. If mercury was a problem for non-organic meat, it would also be a problem for organic meat because both animals would get it from the environment - it wouldn't be pumped into them. Second, antibiotics have nothing to do with parasites.
I am also not so sure about "billions of people eating organic" - at least not the elitist organic grown in the US or Europe. Yes, lots of very poor people in Africa grow food organically and they would change places in a heartbeat with anyone who can walk into a supermarket and buy packaged food off the shelf. Or perhaps you mean billions of people who ate "organic food" before there was any modern agriculture - when one of the main causes of death was dysentary from bad food and water?

raiderrob67's picture

I had to make this account because I am outraged over this artical.You say that Organic is more likely to have parasites.of course they are,there not pumped full of toxins like mercury and anti-biotics that not only kill the bad bugs put transfer those toxins to us.You say"While it may be more likely in organic meat, because giving pigs and chickens access to less confined, more animal-friendly environments means they are more likely to come in contact with parasites,"REALLY?conventional food prudoction has a more animal-frindly inviroment?REALLY?have you seen the places they raise chickens,packed in a cage so tight they cant move.feed growth hormones and grown to full adult size in 6 weeks or less.some grow so fast that they out grow there cages and end up with brooken bones.How dare you suggest that conventionaly grown meat is safer or more animal-frindly.100s of Billions of people have been eating organic meat for 1000's of years.there is no greater risk of parasites from organic meat now than there was then.I would much rather take my chances with organic than know that the meat I am eating has been poisioned and full of growth hormones.did anyone everthink that gee,maybe the problim with obesity today might be caused by all the growth hormons and unnatural garbage they put in our food supply causeing our bodys grow?Pleas people DO NOT belive this lie,buy organic and practice proper food safety.

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