April 10, 2009
By JAMES E. McWILLIAMS
IS free-range pork better and safer to eat than conventional pork? Many consumers think so. The well-publicized horrors of intensive pig farming have fostered the widespread assumption that, as one purveyor of free-range meats put it, “the health benefits are indisputable.” However, as yet another reminder that culinary wisdom is never conventional, scientists have found that free-range pork can be more likely than caged pork to carry dangerous bacteria and parasites. It’s not only pistachios and 50-pound tubs of peanut paste that have been infected with salmonella but also 500-pound pigs allowed to root and to roam pastures happily before butting heads with a bolt gun.
The study published in the journal Foodborne Pathogens and Disease that brought these findings to light last year sampled more than 600 pigs in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin. It discovered not only higher rates of salmonella in free-range pigs (54 percent versus 39 percent) but also greater levels of the pathogen toxoplasma (6.8 percent versus 1.1 percent) and, most alarming, two free-range pigs that carried the parasite trichina (as opposed to zero for confined pigs). For many years, the pork industry has been assuring cooks that a little pink in the pork is fine. Trichinosis, which can be deadly, was assumed to be history. Read More
This is an interesting article, especially when he contradicts his entire argument in the last paragraph. Aside from that, his points are quite valid. There are some very good reasons that our methods of livestock production have come to be. The safety of the animal and the safety of the food supply being the top two reasons. Some, I suppose really believe that free-range meat tastes better, but when groups like HSUS try force production outside, it is because they are well aware of the food safety issues and their hope is that people will quit eating it altogether.