Salmonella appears on organic poultry farms less often than conventional poultry farms, according to a recent University of Georgia study.“There have been a lot of studies that compare salmonella percentages on the retail level. We wanted to look at salmonella at the farm level,” said Walid Alali, a food epidemiologist with UGA Center for Food Safety in Griffin, Ga.The study was published in the Nov. 2010 issue of Foodborne Pathogens and Disease.Seven North Carolina farms testedAlali tracked salmonella, a pathogen that causes foodborne illness, on three organic poultry farms and four conventional poultry farms in North Carolina. The study was conducted in North Carolina because there are no certified organic poultry farms in Georgia. All farms were operated by the same company.“There are natural- and pasture-fed farms (in Georgia), but that’s not certified organic,” he said. “In order to be certified organic, the birds must be raised without the use of antibiotics, be fed organic diets free of animal byproducts and have access to the outside environment.”At each of the seven farms, Alali collected chickens feces, feed and water samples over two production periods, or two consecutive flocks. He tested the samples for salmonella in his laboratory in Griffin. Organic feed was pathogen-free“We found that the percentage of salmonella on conventional farms was a lot higher than that found on the organic farms,” he said. “The main possible reason for this is that we found no salmonella in the organic birds’ incoming feed.”Salmonella percentages are higher on conventional farms also because there are more birds per house on conventional farms than on organic farms. “When there are more birds, it’s easier to transfer salmonella from bird to bird,” he said. He also tested the salmonella he found for resistance to a number of antibiotics. “Antibiotic-resistant salmonella was higher in conventionally raised birds than in organic birds,” he said.Cook poultry throughly, avoid cross contaminationThe UGA study is helpful for poultry growers, he said, but at home, consumers should still be careful not to transfer juices from raw meats, like chicken, to other foods or countertops, he said, regardless of organic or conventional.“More cases of foodborne illness are tracked back to cross contamination of foods than to undercooked chicken,” he said. “Most people know to cook chicken well because no one wants to eat chicken raw or undercooked. It’s not like cooking a steak.”Alali plans to compare salmonella levels on conventional and organic farms at all stages of the production cycle, from the farm to the table.
The Vermont House of Representatives has passed H.73, a bill increases transparency and accountability in state government. The legislation will provide for greater access to public records and allow for better enforcement of the Vermont Public Records Act (PRA). The public records law as it currently stands is very complex and full of exemptions, making enforcement inconsistent across agencies. H. 73 seeks to make access to public records more readily available and the process understandable. The bill also sets up a process to review the necessity of current exemptions. ‘The current public records act is confusing for both individuals requesting access to records and those agencies providing the records,’ said Speaker Shap Smith. ‘By clarifying current law, state government will be more responsive to its citizens’with transparency, efficiency and accountability.’ Designed to address the current shortfalls of the PRA, H.73 contains the following provisions: · Creates public records training for all public agencies;· Establishes a resource at the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration to provide guidance and advice to municipalities for complying with the PRA;· Clarifies the agencies’ responsibilities to respond to a records request;· Forms a study committee to evaluate and recommend changes to the 215 exemptions of the PRA. The bill advanced in the House to third reading yesterday, 134-5. The bill passed this afternoon on a strong voice vote. It has been sent to the Senate for its consideration.Source: Speaker’s office. 5.7.2011