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Health / Diseases

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Study links illness to non-antibiotic raised pigs

Although consumers are eager for meat raised without antibiotics the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine has conducted a study which indicates that drug-free pork might not always be the best.

In a comparison of antibiotic-free pigs and conventionally raised pigs, more than half of the antibiotic-free ones in the study tested positive for Salmonella, compared to 39 percent of the conventional livestock. The Toxoplasma gondii parasite was found in 6.8 percent of the antibiotic-free stock, compared to 1.1 percent of the conventional livestock.

Two antibiotic-free pigs out of the 616 total tested also were positive for Trichinella spiralis, a rare parasite that can be fatal to humans who consume undercooked meat. It was considered to be eradicated from U.S. pork operations.

Naturally raised pigs' exposure to moisture, vegetation and other animals in their free-range environment could add to the higher instance of common bacteria, the study adds.

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• Ohio State University

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