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Organic Meat Not Free of Drug-Resistant Bacteria

If you’re paying premium prices for pesticide- and antibiotic-free meat, you might expect that it’s also free of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Not so, according to a new study. The prevalence ofone of the world’s most dangerous drug-resistant microbe strains is similar in retail pork products labeled “raised without antibiotics” and in meat from conventionally raised pigs, researchers have found.

Tara Smith, an epidemiologist at the University of Iowa College of Public Health in Iowa City who studies the movement of staph bacteria between animals and people, wondered whether meat products might be another mode of transmission.

The researchers found that 64.8% of the samples were positive for staph bacteria and 6.6% were positive for MRSA. Rates of contamination were similar for conventionally raised pigs (19 of 300 samples) and those labeled antibiotic-free (seven of 95 samples).

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