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Health Benefits of Pasture-Based and Grass fed Farming
Health Benefits of Pasture-Based and Grass fed FarmingOriginal Article

Grassfed Beef
Consumers' concern about the safety of their meat has risen as multiple beef recalls have made the news in recent months. However, the latest recalls making headlines are nothing new; between Jan. 1, 1994 and Nov. 31, 2007, roughly 800 separate company recalls took place - equivalent to over 300 million lbs. of meat and poultry products. Nearly all were caused by two types of bacteria: Listeria and E. coli.

At the heart of the problem is the standard industry practice of raising and processing animals at the fastest rate and the lowest cost. With over 80 percent of meat in the United States coming from mass production units, consumer fears may be justified. Fortunately, an alternative exists. Studies show that meat from grassfed cattle, such as those raised by Animal Welfare Approved farmers, is less likely to harbor dangerous bacteria.

A 2001* study comparing calves finished in feedlots with calves that stayed out on grass showed that grassfed animals had less E. coli overall, and the E. coli that did show up was a different strand that was much less likely to infect humans. None of the grassfed calves had the potentially lethal O157:h7 strain, whereas all of the grainfed calves had this type of E. coli.

Another study** conducted in 2003 found that, among loads of feedlot and grassfed cattle, 58 percent of the former group carried the campylobacter bacteria. Only 2 percent of cattle raised on pasture had these bacteria, which can cause symptoms including fever, upset stomach, headache and muscle pain.The Animal Welfare Approved husbandry standards require that all beef cattle are raised humanely on pasture, ensuring that they are able to live naturally in a habitat that suits them, and that their meat is a safer choice for consumers.

Eatwild is great resource for identifying local safe, healthy and sustainable meat, poultry and dairy products. Also be sure to visit the American Grassfed Association's website for more information on the benefits of grass-fed livestock.

* Russell, J.B., F. Diez-Gonzalez, and G.N. Jarvis, "Potential Effect on Cattle Diets and the Transmission of Pathogenic Escherichia Coli to Humans" Microbes Infect 2, no, 1 (2000) 45-53.
**Bailey, G.D., B.A. Vantelow et al. (2003) "A study of the food borne pathogens Campylobacter, Listeria and Yersinia, in faeces from slaughter-age cattle and sheep in Australia." Commun Dis Intell 2003; 27(2): 249-57.
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