Study finds no clear safety advantage for grass-fed beef

By Robert Roos, CIDRAP

A recent study of a modest sample of US retail beef products found little difference between the levels of bacteria in grass-fed and conventionally raised beef, despite marketing claims that grass-fed beef is safer.

Reporting in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, researchers said they found no significant differences in total coliform bacteria, Escherichia coli, or Enterococcus species. They also looked at antimicrobial resistance and found mixed evidence, with some signs of increased resistance in bacteria isolated from conventional beef as compared with grass-fed beef.

“Taken together, these data indicate that there are no clear food safety advantages to grass-fed beef products over conventional beef products,” says the report by investigators from Purdue University in Indiana and Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.

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