Organic Meats Pose Threat For Parasite Risk

A recent study suggests that organic meat may pose a higher risk for carrying disease-spreading parasites, which could then be transferred to consumers who eat these meats. In a report by the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, research shows that undercooked meat could lead to the spread of the toxoplasma parasite affecting mainly pregnant women and those with fragile immune systems.

Eating undercooked meat — mainly pork, lamb or wild game, whether it's organic or not — poses a higher risk for spreading the parasite which could lead to developing toxoplasmosis.

"It's a serious illness especially for those with compromised immune systems," said Carly Trueger, clinical dietician at New York Presbyterian Hospital.  "The best way to avoid getting sick is to cook meats well and follow strict hand hygiene guidelines — especially after handling raw meats."

The report states that organic and free-range meats are potentially more hazardous because the animals come into contact more frequently with other animals, grass, soil, and feed which could be contaminated.

As many as one in five people in the United States carry the parasite but many don't show signs. Flu-like symptoms present in the early stages, with more progressed cases showing damage to the brain, eyes and other organs. Toxoplasmosis is one of the leading illnesses associated with foodborne illness and death. Salmonella and norovisus are the leading pathogens of domestic foodborne illnesses, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.