Some activist feathers were decidedly ruffled last week by a new British study claming that “organic” and “free range” chickens are nearly twice as likely to carry potentially deadly Campylobacter bacteria, compared to chickens raised in modern farms.
Anti-consumer activist groups from the food police to free-trade blockaders have been agitating for years on behalf of the flawed notion that large livestock operations produce less healthy food. They’ve even called into question the wisdom of feeding antibiotics to food animals, seemingly putting food politics ahead of human health.
Still, there’s no confusing the results of the Brits’ government-funded study of chicken operations, which found that 99 percent of “organic” flocks were infected with Campylobacter. These results are in line with those of a Danish study, which showed that organic poultry was up to three times more likely to contain food-poisoning bacteria.
Predictably, activists in the UK are on the attack, complaining that the director of the British Food Standards Agency has “anti-organic” views. But even the Guardian, a British tabloid known for siding with food activists, couldn’t explain away the agency’s latest findings, noting also that conventionally-raised birds are sold at lower prices: “roughly half those of organic chickens.”