CU responds to inaccurate statement in NY Times organic article
By Consumers Union on Monday, September 10th, 2012
A New York Times article covering the recently-released study on organic food discussed the finding that organic meat contained lower levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria than conventional meat did, but went on to state that “bacteria, antibiotic-resistant or otherwise, would be killed during cooking.”
If this were true, says Consumers Union’s Jean Halloran in a Letter to the Editor published this weekend, we wouldn’t see illnesses and even deaths caused by bacteria in meat. If the bacteria is antibiotic-resistant, she says, it is even harder to treat.
Read the full letter – and the case for our Meat Without Drugs campaign – here:
September 9, 2012
To the Editor:
“Stanford Scientists Cast Doubt on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce” (news article, Sept. 4) says organic meat contained considerably lower levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria than conventionally raised animals, “but bacteria, antibiotic-resistant or otherwise, would be killed during cooking.”
But if this were true, we would not have had 136 illnesses and one death from antibiotic-resistant salmonella in ground turkey last year, or an estimated tens of millions of food-borne illnesses every year.
Unfortunately, bacteria survive. Most cooks do not treat their kitchen like a Level 4 biohazard facility. The cook may use the same knife on raw meat and salad greens. The chicken from the grill may still be a bit pink in the middle, the beef burger rare.
If the bacteria are antibiotic-resistant, any resulting illness will be harder to treat. These are among the reasons Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports, has begun its Meat Without Drugs campaign to persuade supermarkets to carry only meat raised without antibiotics.
Organic meat is already raised without antibiotics. This has value both for public health and for individual consumers.
Director, Food Policy Initiatives
Yonkers, Sept. 5, 2012