that when a long-term diet of hay was fed (greater than a month), the cattle still shed O157 (Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005 71:7974-9.) Another one found diet had no effect on O157 (J Anim Sci. 2006 84:2523-32). If anything's clear, it's that the link between diet and shedding of O157 *isn't* clear, despite what Plank claims.Of course, knowing where our food comes from is important for many reasons and some links between factory farming and disease, like the evolution of antibiotic-resistance bacteria, are widely accepted. However, it is important that we base our decisions on the best science available and learn to tolerate some uncertainty.
Friday, September 29, 2006
Is There Really a Connection between E. coli and Farming Methods?
Last Saturday, I linked to a WorldChanging post that said that E. coli O157 is linked to factory farming because it prefers to grow in grain-fed cows. I have just become aware that Tara Smith at Aetiology has written on this topic and the issue is not really clear-cut. There may indeed be a connection between grain-feeding and pathogenic E. coli, but the evidence is hardly unequivocal. Tara mentions a study that found