Organic Meat Can Cause Toxoplasmosis When Uncooked, Study Finds

Jun 11, 2012 03:27 PM EDT | By Carly Okyle

There is a downside to eating organic, it seems. A study conducted by the parasitic diseases branch of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal Parasitic Disease Laboratory found that organic and free-range meat might have a higher chance of carrying the toxoplasma parasite, which can lead to an illness called toxoplasmosis if the meat is not cooked well. The parasite is often located on the inside of the animal rather than on the surface of a cut of meat, which means cooking the meat through is the best way to prevent getting sick. The study is published in a journal called Clinically Infectious Diseases.

According to this article, the early stages of toxoplasmosis resembles the flu, and in severe cases, the illness can damage the brain, eyes and other organs. The article says, “Foods which are more likely to carry the parasite in the US are - raw ground beef or rare lamb; unpasteurized goat`s milk; locally produced cured, dried or smoked meat; and raw oysters, clams or mussels.”

Since there’s been a push in the country to adopt a healthier diet – even First Lady Michelle Obama is in on the trend with her cookbook – some people have taken to buying organic foods when possible. These organic foods don’t have poisonous pesticides in them. Instead, for meat and dairy products to be certified as organic, the animals from which it originated must have been raised in living conditions that accommodated their natural behaviors, and they must not have received any hormones or antibiotics.

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