Organic and conventionally produced foods. They may seem like “apples and oranges,” but they have a lot more similarities than you may think. That’s especially true when it comes to food safety.
A string of recalls for organic products has cast much-needed light on a big food safety myth. (Examples from just the past two weeks here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.) That myth is that organic foods are somehow safer than conventionally produced foods. It’s a sad reminder that there isn’t a label or production method that means a food is free of contamination.
Every day, we count on all parts of the food systems (including our own safe-food handling skills!) to keep our families safe from food-borne illness. All the parts of this system are essential to Americans’ enjoying one of the safest food supplies in the world. Although production methods differ, both organic and conventional foods can (unfortunately) make you sick when there are small lapses in food safety.
Microbes don’t care how your food was produced. Both organic and conventionally produced foods can be contaminated with dangerous pathogens. E. Coli, Salmonella, and Listeria don’t discriminate. In fact, some research has even shown higher rates of microbial contamination on organic foods than conventionally produced foods. All the more reason to brush up on your safe food-handling skills, no matter what type of foods you buy.
Whether you buy organic or conventional, remember that you are a big part of the food safety equation. There are four simple steps to help keep your family food safe: Clean, separate, cook, and chill. Watch our food safety featurette to help you master these vital safe food-handling techniques. And remember, these tips apply to ALL foods… no matter the production methods.
Also, check out our Consumer’s Guide to Safe Food Handling.