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Organic Poultry

For more than 20 year, the subtherapeutic use of antibiotics (low level doses of antibiotics) on healthy flocks of poultry have been justified as a means of preventing infection in poultry as well as enhancing growth. The therapeutic use of antibiotics has been and continues to be used to treat bacterial infections. But, because flocks often number more than 30,000, whenever a veterinarian diagnoses an infected bird, farmers typically treat the whole flock by adding the drug to their drinking water. So, healthy birds are also receiving high doses of antibiotics. With all this overuse of antibiotics, bacteria are becoming antibiotic-resistant.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when use of an antibiotic kills off all the susceptible bacteria but leaves behind a few that were able to withstand the drug. These resistant bacteria then multiply, creating a mutated form that drugs can't kill. And, use of antibiotics in poultry (and other livestock), whether subtherapeutic or therapeutic, has been proven to decrease people's resistance to diseases.

How does antibiotic resistance in poultry affect people?
From 1995 through 2000 (when the FDA banned the use of fluoroquinolone drugs), poultry growers used fluoroquinolone drugs to keep chickens and turkeys from dying from Escherichia coli (E. coli) infection, a disease that they could pick up from their own droppings. While the drug did cure the E. coli bacteria in the poultry, another kind of bacteria---Campylobacter--built up resistance to these drugs. - Source: FDA Consumer magazine January-February 2001.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that there are two to four million Campylobacter infections per year, resulting in as many as 250 deaths each year in the United States. Furthermore, about one in a thousand Campylobacter infections leads to Guillan-Barre syndrome, a disease that can cause paralysis.

For more information on bacterial resistance to drugs, download and read The World Health Organization report, "WHO Global Strategy for Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance (http://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/drugresist/EGlobal_Strat.pdf).

How can I be assured my poultry is antibiotic-free?
The only way to be certain the poultry you buy have not been treated with antibiotics is to purchase those labeled antibiotic-free, or organic. However, antibiotic-free simply means that the poultry are not being fed antibiotics. Chances are, they are still being fed growth promoters and/or artificial additives, and they are probably still cooped up in crowded indoor pens as well as being slaughtered by inhumane methods. So, your best bet is to buy organic poultry.

Organic poultry are fed no routine drugs, no growth promoters, or any other artificial additives. The terms "organic poultry" and "free-range poultry" are generally used interchangeably because they are raised in a similar manner.

Free-range poultry are raised in long, portable wooden skid houses surrounded by a perimeter fence to protect them from predators. These wooden skids hold up to 400 chickens each and are towed by tractor to new locations on the pasture every few weeks as needed. The skids are enclosed by poultry wire, have litter covered floors, tarp covered gable roofs and doors on both ends. Birds are locked on the skids at night for protection from predators. - Source: "Free-Range Poultry Production, Processing and Marketing" by Herman Beck-Chenoweth

Poultry labeled as "organic" may or may not be raised in portable wooden skids, but they do have regular access to the outdoors where they, like free-range poultry, can engage in natural behaviors like scratching and foraging on grass and insects in open-air pens. And, organic and free-range poultry supplement up to 20 percent of their food intake by foraging, which cuts down on the need for grain.

Benefits of Organic Poultry
Organic poultry are cleaner, have better color and a better disposition than those raised by conventional farming methods. When they take adequate amounts of grass and weeds, the birds remain very active and healthy. They also help keep weeds under control and help enrich the soil through their droppings.

Organic poultry are also slaughtered in a less stressful and more humane manner. It has been determined that the increased adrenaline caused by fear affects the meat quality. Humane slaughter methods cause less stress for the animal, producing even better quality meat.

Buying organic poultry is worth the money it costs because you get better tasting meat that's more nutritious, and you're reducing your personal risk of exposure to toxins. And, in order to live a healthy lifestyle, you have to be sure that the food you eat is also healthy.

Some of the health benefits of eating organic poultry:

  • Lean, organic poultry is a very good source of high density, low fat protein produced without added potentially harmful chemicals.
  • Organic poultry is a good source of selenium, zinc, niacin, Vitamin E, betacarotene, and Vitamins B6 and B12.
  • Organic poultry allowed regular access to the outdoors has 21% less total fat, 30% less saturated fat, 28% fewer calories, 50% more vitamin A, and 100% more omega-3 fatty acid than poultry not allowed outdoor access according to the USDA Sustainable Agriculture & Research Education Program.

Source: http://www.diamondorganics.com

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, why not try an some organic poultry yourself by getting an organic turkey? Or, show your family how much you love them by giving them an organic, free-range turkey. It may pave the way to healthier eating habits for you and them. You can get them in stores and even order them online. Here's one place you can order online: http://www.lobels.com/store/main/poultry.htm. The site also offers recipes and serving size suggestions.


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