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Latest Cargill Beef Recall is One More Reason to Buy Grass Fed Beef

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's All About Organics page and our Food Safety Research Center page.

CBS and other major news outlets reported on Monday that Cargill Meat Solutions, a major U.S. meat company has recalled nearly 30,000 pounds of ground beef due to an outbreak of salmonella poisoning resulting from meat that came from them. The meat in this case was sold in Hannaford Supermarkets located in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. Sell by dates were May 29 through June 6.

As the title of my article suggests, buying grass-fed beef can reduce your chances of exposure to such outbreaks. Having posted this on my business and personal Facebook pages yesterday, I was met with the question, "What does the diet of the cow have to do with bacterial contamination in the meat that comes from it?" and, "Isn't that kind of problem more to do with the processor's sanitation methods than what the cow eats?" These are fair questions worthy of a response.

First let's define how salmonella contamination occurs. Salmonella originates within the fecal matter of animals (including humans) and can live on a surface that it attaches to for quite a long time. For most cuts of beef, upon contact with a heating surface, the salmonella will die. However, in the case of ground beef, the "surface" is ground into the interior of the meat product in which case it doesn't all touch the heating surface. The case of general sanitation issues at a meat packer of any type is one reason why I always tell people to cook ground beef well done (to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees) whether it is conventional, organic, or grass-fed. However, when you're talking about beef coming from a conventional operation, there are further concerns than mere sanitation.

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