Study Claims Organic Poultry Lower in Drug-Resistant Bacteria
A recent study has claimed that after adopting organic practices and ceasing the use of antibiotics, large-scale poultry farms had “significantly lower levels” of antibiotic-resistant and multidrug resistant (MDR) Enterococcus than their conventional counterparts. Amy Rebecca Sapkot, et al., “Lower Prevalence of Antibiotic-resistant Enterococci On U.S. Conventional Poultry Farms That Transitioned to Organic Practices,” Environmental Health Perspectives, August 2011. Researchers apparently sampled poultry litter, feed and water “from 10 conventional and 10 newly organic poultry houses in 2008,” finding that the percentages of resistant E. faecalis and resistant E. faecium “were significantly lower (p<0.05) among isolates from newly organic versus conventional houses for two (erythromycin and tylosin) and five (ciprofloxacin, gentamicin, nitrofurantoin, penicillin and tetracycline) antimicrobials.” They also reported that 42 percent of E. faecalis isolates and 84 of E. faecium isolates from conventional poultry houses were multidrug resistant, compared to 10 percent of E. faecalis isolates and 17 percent of E. faecium isolates from newly organic poultry houses.
“We initially thought we would see some differences in on-farm levels of
antibiotic-resistant Enterococci when poultry farms transitioned to organic
practices,” said lead author Amy Sapkota in an August 10, 2011, University
of Maryland press release. “But we were surprised to see that the differences
were so significant across several different classes of antibiotics even in the
very first flock of birds that was produced after the transition to organic