Recently a report from Stanford University indicated that organic food essentially is not superior to conventionally grown food.

Researchers led by Dena Bravata, MD, MS, from Stanford’s Center for Health Policy was published in the Sept. 4 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, and looked at 237 studies that compared either the health of people who ate organic or conventional foods, or, more commonly, nutrient and contaminant levels in the foods such as bacterial, fungal or pesticide contamination.

In an article on the Stanford’s School of Medicine’s website, it says, “They did not find strong evidence that organic foods are more nutritious or carry fewer health risks than conventional alternatives, though consumption of organic foods can reduce the risk of pesticide exposure.”

Food safety expert Scott Hurd, DVM, PhD, Iowa State University, writes on his food safety blog yesterday that because the authors examined hundreds of studies on the topic, not just a few hand-picked studies, that the meta analysis is a powerful objective method for analyzing a collection of conflicting evidence on a scientific topic.

Where food safety of organic and conventional meat is concerned, Hurd says the authors did not find any significant difference in the amount of food-borne pathogens present in conventional and organic meat. He says, “For example, in chicken 67% of organic samples were contaminated with Campylobacter versus 64% of conventional samples. Salmonella contamination was 35% for organic chicken versus 34% for conventional and E. coli contamination was 65% of organic samples versus 49% of conventional samples.

As far as antibiotic resistance, Hurd says all types mea t have the potential to have antibiotic resistant bacteria. But to cause harm to human health, even antibiotic resistant pathogens on meat have a long journey to make including pathogen survival during processing and cooking, ingestion of the resistant pathogens, and a resulting illness requiring antibiotics. Hurd says, “The harm would only result if all of these things happened and the bacteria did not respond to the antibiotic therapy.”

The bottom line, concludes Hurd: “Today’s modern farmer is not going to wipe out the human race.”

 To read Hurd’s blog, click here.