Culinary Delights, Organic Policy and Regulations, Social Implications in Agriculture, What is Organic

Still Wondering if that Organic Turkey is Worth It? – A New Study Suggests It’s the Safest Choice

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It’s the weekend before the great holiday feast. Turkey is on the menu, and I haven’t even ordered mine – let along worked out if it will be baked, smoked, or set upon the barbeque for hours.

Organic, free-range and antibiotic-free are always my first choice because I want to support farmers who steward the land and care properly for the fowl.

If you haven’t already purchased your Thanksgiving gobbler, a new study gives you another good reason to buy an organic bird.

Organic and antibiotic-free poultry is half as likely to be contaminated with multidrug-resistant Salmonella. The stuff that makes us sick!

The day is almost upon us. When we North Americans gather to give thanks and eat ourselves silly – into a traditional food-related coma.

Waking up the next day with a tummy ache or symptoms even more effluvious is certainly no way to commemorate a family gathering.

A first-of-its-kind-study, released just in time for Thanksgiving, shows that meat from conventionally raised poultry is “twice as likely to contain multidrug-resistant Salmonella as poultry labeled” organic or antibiotic-free.

The study stated that “researchers reviewed data from chicken and turkey randomly purchased in Pennsylvania between 2008-2017,” revealing that 10.2% of the conventional poultry samples contained non-typhoidal Salmonella. Only 5.3% of the antibiotic-free poultry were contaminated.

They also determined that 55% of Salmonella cultures from conventionally raised poultry were resistant to three or more antibiotics compared to 28% of Salmonella cultures from poultry raised organically and without antibiotics.

They also found that the conventional poultry contained a gene that makes Salmonella difficult to treat with the only class of antibiotics recommended for use in children.

Eating Salmonella-contaminated meat that isn’t properly handled or cooked is one of the most common causes of salmonella poisoning.

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When preparing your bird, always clean your hands before and after handling. Clean utensils and appliances, cutting board and knife, before using them again.

Never wash your fowl! Washing poultry can spread juices around and, sometimes, spread bacteria up to three feet away, according to a study at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Thaw and cook it properly using a meat thermometer. Really the only way to know for sure whether you’ve reduced your risk of foodborne illness is to cook the meat to an internal temperature of 165 F.  Be sure to check the bird’s temperature in the right places.

Here’s are some tips from the National Turkey Federation for correctly checking the temp of a whole turkey: “insert the thermometer into the thickest portion of the turkey breast, the innermost portion of thigh and the innermost portion of the wing.”

Severe cases of Salmonella poisoning require antibiotics, which nobody needs and is often quite challenging because this naughty bug is highly resistant to drugs.

Why should we worry about antibiotics anyway?

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The overuse and misuse of antibiotics in humans and animal production can lead to antibiotic resistance in people. Too many antibiotics in your medicine cabinet or diet increase the risk that antibiotics won’t work when you really need them.

Even the Salmonella itself is adapting and becoming increasingly resistant to treatment.

Just last August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified a deadly strain of Salmonella that had sickened more than 250 people and didn’t respond to the antibiotics commonly prescribed to treat that very foodborne infection.

Make the safer choice – buy organic!


Even though both conventionally raised and organic antibiotic-free poultry samples had some contamination, their results show that Salmonella in poultry produced without antibiotics – organic were significantly less resistant to antibiotics compared with poultry raised using conventional methods.

Remember that all animals raised for certified organic meats are not allowed to eat any food which has been treated with synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or radiation.

You should always read labels and make the most informed choice when buying your holiday meal.

This year I will make mine organic – will you?

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