To ensure the good health of your family, researching organic beef dangers makes sense before making the switch to these foods. Organic foods are not exempt from being sources of foodborne illnesses.
Are There Organic Beef Dangers?
Organic meats and livestock products made up over 25 percent of total organic sales, making it the number one source of income for organic farms, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). For that reason alone, it deserves some scrutiny.
Organic agriculture has been touted as environmentally friendly because it uses methods which reduce energy and thus, greenhouse gas emissions. However, the work on a conventional or organic farm does not change dramatically.
Rather, it is the source of energy. Organic farming is labor intensive with workers supplying manual labor. While that is good from an energy perspective, it also opens the door for human error when handling or processing products. This can be one source of organic beef contamination.
Some confusion may exist with labeling of beef products which may contribute the belief that organic meat is bad. Only products which are labeled "100 percent Organic" are composed of all organic ingredients.
However, with beef, you will see other labels which may contribute to the confusion. Part of the reason lies in the fact that organic and natural are viewed as synonymous which is not necessarily the case.
With meats, you may see labels such as "natural," "grass fed," "free range," and "no hormones added."
The term, natural, is a bit of a misnomer since raw meats are not processed into products such as sausage or lunch meats. The terms, grass fed and free range, delve into a gray area. Both terms indicate that the livestock have access to the outdoors. The conditions are vague.
Animals may still be keep in dense population groups, part of the issues raised with conventionally-raised livestock. The USDA does not regulate how these labels are used, so the possibility exists that you may not be buying products which adhere to what your perception might be.
Another of the organic beef dangers also lies in perception. Some people may assume that all organic foods are safer and thus, do not require the same best practices for handling. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 48 million Americans contract foodborne illnesses each year. Raw foods of animal origin are the most common source of contamination.
To minimize your risks, you should use or freeze ground beef within two days of purchase. You should cook ground beef to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, recommends the USDA. This is essential in light of the fact that ground beef can contain some of the most common and most deadliest forms of bacteria.
Sources of Contamination
Whether your beef is organic or not, the fact remains that bacteria exists everywhere, even in your own body. The difference lies in whether it is harmful and if so, can your body fight it off? Beef can become contaminated right from the farm.
However, grass-fed cattle are less likely to produce acid-resistant E. coli bacteria than grain-feed livestock., according to a 2000 study in Microbes and Infection (2(1): 45-53). This fact may be an important consideration when choosing ground beef.
Food handlers can also introduce bacteria into organic beef regardless of the stringent measures taken prior to ensure its safety. If organic beef is not stored properly, the risk for bacteria growth increases. Ground beef is of a special concern since it may include meat from several different animals with several different opportunities for exposure.
In the end, you can minimize the organic beef dangers by properly storing and preparing these products. Above all, it is essential to remember that organic foods are just as susceptible to bacteria as conventionally-farmed foods.
Being organic does not give them any special protection nor does it imply a safer product necessarily. Food safety, therefore, begins when you purchase your organic foods.