Infectious Diseases 2021

Infectious Diseases 2021

Organic meat less likely to be contaminated with multidrug-resistant bacteria

14 May, 2021

Meat that is certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is less likely to be contaminated with bacteria that can sicken people, including dangerous, multidrug-resistant organisms, compared to conventionally produced meat, according to a study from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The researchers found that, compared to conventionally processed meats, organic-certified meats were 56% less likely to be contaminated with multidrug-resistant bacteria. The study was based on nationwide testing of meats from 2012 to 2017 as part of the U.S. National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS). A longstanding concern about antibiotic use in livestock and livestock feed is the increased prevalence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens. To monitor this trend, in 1996 the federal government developed NARMS to track antibiotic resistance in bacteria isolated from retail meats, farmed animals, and patients with foodborne illness in the U.S. For their study, the Bloomberg School research team analyzed U.S. Food and Drug Administration-NARMS data from randomly sampled chicken breast, ground beef, ground turkey, and pork for any contamination and for contamination by multidrug-resistant organisms. The analysis covers four types of bacteria: Salmonella, Campylobacter, Enterococcus, and E. coli.
The study covered a total of 39,348 meat samples, of which 1,422 were found to be contaminated with at least one multidrug-resistant organism. The rate of contamination was 4% in the conventionally produced meat samples and just under 1% in those that were produced organically. The study was published in Environmental Health Perspectives.