Rootstohealth's Blog

E. Coli grows where??
January 26, 2010, 5:32 pm
Filed under: Beef, Corn, Food Safety, Grass-Fed, Labeling, Organic

I read some articles in the last few days that compared grass-fed beef to feed-lot raised cows. The articles, such as this one in Slate a few days ago state that grass-fed beef supporters say the E. Coli doesn’t actually grow in the stomachs of grass-fed beef. I was under the impression, and perhaps I was mistaken, that the connection between E. Coli and grass-fed beef was that the bacteria was much less likely to be found in grass-fed beef because the cows are given more space and are in generally cleaner conditions than those in feed lots, and because their feed is more closely regulated than feed lot beef. Just to get the clear picture out there… E. Coli CAN grow and live in any cow’s stomach! HThere’s always going to be some bacteria. It’s part of life. The problem is that in feed lot cattle, the living conditions are facilitating E. Coli growth by generally mistreating the cows. E. Coli will happen, but steps should still be taken to prevent their growth (and by more ways than inoculating them). There is an expectation for us to eat germ-free food…it’s never going to happen. The problem is when these germs are in foods they definitely should not be in (i.e., cookie dough…) or when we are exacerbating the problem by the way we actually raise farm animals in this country.

Just like you don’t eat an organic apple for it’s “higher nutrient content,” but rather for the environmental methods by which it’s produced, grass-fed cattle is there to alleviate many worries about feed-lot cattle, not just E. Coli and other food safety issues.

Long story short (can you tell I can get worked up about this??), eating grass-fed beef does not give 100% certainty that you won’t get sick from E. Coli. But your odds probably are a lot higher, and you can at least know that you’re doing better on many other fronts (keeping your Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratios down, letting the cows eat what they want and are meant to eat, have beef that is free from antibiotics, cows that are eating VEGETARIAN!! (as they should be….), not supporting a very large corn industry, happy farms, happy people, this list goes on…). So eat your grass-fed burger with a little less trepidation than your feedlot burger tonight.