Giving Compass' Take:
- Jessica Fu explains how organic meat is half as likely to contain multidrug-resistant bacteria as conventional meat, according to a new analysis of contamination data.
- How can funders help to lessen the spread of drug-resistant bacteria?
- Read about why sustainable farming is necessary to produce quality meat products.
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Organic meat is half as likely to contain multidrug-resistant bacteria as conventional meat, according to a new analysis of contamination data collected from nearly 40,000 samples of chicken, pork, beef, and lamb, published last week.
This might not come as a huge surprise. Producers who market livestock as “organic” are prohibited from using antibiotic medicines that fight infection but also contribute to the alarming rise of drug resistance in both humans and animals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.8 million people contract infections that are resistant to antibiotics every year in the U.S., and 35,000 people die from them.
However, last week’s study didn’t just look at how different production methods are associated with contamination. It also raised a typically overlooked question: What role do middlemen in the meat supply chain—the facilities that process and pack the cuts of meat you see at the butcher shop or the grocery store—play in the spread of bacteria?
“There’s not a lot of literature out there on how the processing aspect of the food supply chain really impacts the consumer experience at the end of the retail store,” said Gabriel Innes, first author of the study and instructor of epidemiology at Rutgers University.
In their analysis, the report authors found the facilities that exclusively process conventional meat were significantly more likely to be associated with bacterial contamination of any type—drug-resistant or otherwise—when compared to plants that process both organic and conventionally produced meat, aka “split” processing facilities. Only one sample from an organic-only facility tested positive for any contamination. (However, it bears noting, meat from organic-only facilities made up a tiny fraction of the samples, so they’re not a strong data point from which to extrapolate broad takeaways.)
The findings suggest that stringent sanitation might be worth looking into as a strategy to mitigate the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which are the source of a major, ongoing public health concern.
Read the full article about multidrug-resistant bacteria in meat by Jessica Fu at The Counter.