Challenging conventional beef, organic, grass-fed

Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — With fast food restaurants jumping on the organic beef bandwagon, many are asking what, if any, are the pros of this type of meat.

Consumer reports released a report earlier this month stating that of the 458 pounds of beef tested, all contained fecal contamination, almost 20 percent contained a bacteria that causes food poisoning and 10 percent contained a strain of S. aureus bacteria that can sicken the consumer even with proper cooking.

“The results were sobering,” the report said.

The beef tested included conventional beef and beef that was raised sustainably without antibiotics. The beef was purchased from 103 food stores in 26 cities across the country.

Beef from conventionally raised cows was more likely to have bacteria overall, as well as bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, than beef from sustainably raised cows,” the report said. “We classified beef as being more sustainably produced if it had one or more of the following characteristics: no antibiotics, organic or grass-fed.”

The results found bacteria in all kinds of beef, but more sustainably produced beef contained significantly less bacteria.

Bacteria | Stock photo, St. George News
Bacteria | Stock photo, St. George News

S. aureus, a toxin that can cause sickness even with proper cooking, is in 55 percent of conventional beef and 25 percent of sustainable beef.

E. coli was found in almost 60 percent of conventional beef and almost 40 percent of sustainable beef.

“Between 2003 and 2012, there were almost 80 outbreaks of E. coli O157 due to tainted beef, sickening 1,144 people, putting 316 in the hospital and killing five,” consumer reports said. “Ground beef was the source of the majority of those outbreaks and incidences of food poisoning are vastly underreported.”

When analyzing multidrug-resistent bacteria, conventional beef had 19 percent bacteria, sustainably produced had 9 percent and grass-fed beef had 6 percent.

Challenging chain restaurants

More restaurants are noticing the surge in awareness for organic beef and adjusting their menus to appease.

Fast food restaurant | Stock image, St. George News
Fast food restaurant | Stock image, St. George News

Carl’s Jr. rolled out the “All-Natural Burger” Dec. 17, 2014, with no antibiotics, steroids or added hormones.

McDonald’s released the “McB” Oct. 1 to Germany, its first 100 percent organic beef burger, with potential to adopt in the United States.

A recently released report titled “Chain Reaction” sponsored by Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Consumers Union, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Keep Antibiotics Working and Center for Food Safety, graded chain restaurants regarding their use of antibiotics and sourcing practice in their meat and poultry supply chains.

Chipotle and Panera Bread are the only restaurants receiving an A grade from the report. Chik-fil-A received a B, while Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s received a C.

The F grade was assigned to Wendy’s, Burger King, Denny’s, Domino’s Pizza, Papa Johns, Starbucks Coffee, Olive Garden, Subway, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Applebee’s, Sonic, Chili’s, Jack in the Box, Arby’s, Dairy Queen, IHOP, Outback and Little Caesars.

The results were sent to the restaurants Sept. 15, urging them to eliminate the use of antibiotics in their meat.

The results and more abundance of research studies are pointing consumers and restaurants in the direction of less antibiotics and more natural production methods.

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