NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Free Range Chickens Can Carry Disease

November 25, 2002

A British study has found that free-range and organically raised chickens are twice as likely to carry a food poisoning bacteria than chickens grown indoors.

Researchers investigated 60 organic and 130 conventional flocks. Their initial findings show significantly higher levels of campylobacter in flocks reared outdoors.

  • All the chickens studied were destined for human consumption.
  • Researchers found campylobacter in 58 percent of indoor-reared flocked but in all the organic flocks
  • Campylobacter jejuni and coli are the most commonly identified bacterial cause of food poisoning in the United Kingdom.

The bacteria is thought to be carried by wild birds which is one theory for the high levels in outdoor-bred flocks.

Source: "Free range hens 'food poisoning' scare,", November 19, 2002.


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