(NaturalNews) What chickens eat and how they are raised makes all the difference in determining their overall health and susceptibility to salmonella, according to a new study published in the journal Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. Researchers from the University of Georgia's Center for Food Safety (UGCFS) discovered that conventional chickens are nearly 700 percent more likely to develop salmonella than organic chickens, which has huge implications in food safety.
A team of five scientists from UGCFS and several other schools collected and analyzed fecal, feed, and drinking water samples from both conventional and organic birds raised on various farms owned by the same North Carolina company. For two flock cycles, the team collected the samples when birds were both three and eight weeks old, and tested them for the presence of both Salmonella and antimicrobial-resistant salmonella.
Upon analysis, the salmonella rate among conventional birds was 38.8 percent, while it was only 5.6 percent among organic birds. Conventional feed was contaminated with salmonella 27.5 percent of the time, while organic feed was contaminated only 5 percent of the time. And shockingly, nearly 40 percent of the salmonella detected in conventional birds was resistant to six different antibiotics, while not a single organic bird was found to be contaminated with antimicrobial-resistant salmonella.
Poultry products are the primary vehicle by which salmonella gets into the food chain and causes serious disease outbreaks among humans. Many NaturalNews readers will remember the massive conventional egg recall that took place last year, for instance (http://www.naturalnews.com/029570_egg_recall...). And earlier that year, Consumer Reports discovered that roughly two-thirds of conventional chicken meat sold at grocery stores is contaminated with disease-causing bacteria like salmonella on a daily basis (http://www.naturalnews.com/028661_chickens_s...).
And the new study shows that the type of salmonella prevalent among conventional chickens is the antibiotic-resistant kind. Unlike the very few organic chickens that developed typical salmonella as part of the study, the conventional chickens were largely contaminated with a type of "super-salmonella" that does not respond to treatment. This mutant salmonella is clearly a result of growth hormones and antibiotics added to birds' feed and rearing regimens, as well as their filthy living conditions that foster disease growth.
Ultimately, the UGCFS study shows that conventional animal raising methods are dangerous, and represent a serious threat to human health. The organic birds in the study, which were still raised on a large-scale factory-type farm, had very low rates of disease compared to their conventional counterparts -- which means that pasture-based, small-scale farm chickens most likely fare even better with a virtually zero percent rate of salmonella and other serious illness.
No matter how many times the FDA, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other government regulatory agencies try to persuade you that food safety requires more restrictions, regulations, irradiation, and pasteurization, remember to remind them that conventional, factory farms are to blame -- and point them to studies like this one that perfectly illustrate this point.