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Oregano-fed chicken could fight disease

Should farmers feed chickens oregano oil and cinnamon to keep us healthier?

By Christine L. Chen Dec 26, 2012 7:17PM
To be healthier, would you spend a little more to buy organic chicken, raised without antibiotics? It’s a question I ask myself all the time. You probably didn’t talk about this over your holiday turkey, but it might be worth chatting about during your next mealtime, considering that “superbugs” and other health problems including food allergies are on the rise.

Not much can destroy holiday joy faster than coming down with something that can’t be treated with antibiotics. Hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized each year with respiratory infections. But, there could be some relief -- on a chicken farm.

For the past three years, at farms producing chicken for Bell & Evans in Pennsylvania, chickens have been fed a diet free of antibiotics but laced with oregano oil and cinnamon. Owner Scott Sechler swears that the combo fights off bacterial diseases that often wreak havoc on chicken farms -- the kind that can infect us and can be resistant to some antibiotics. In other words, he believes that what’s good for the chicken is good for us. 

While there’s no official, medical word that oregano and cinnamon fight bacteria, and testing the benefits of herb feed for animals is still in the early stages, Sechler claims that nothing he has tried previously has worked as well. Furthermore, one German study did find that cinnamon suppresses e.Coli (which causes yeast infections in people), while oregano oil is thought to have broad antibacterial properties.

Dr. Harry G. Preuss, a professor of physiology and biology at Georgetown University Medical Center, said, “This is really promising, particularly when you consider that we are facing a crisis in our hospitals and health systems with the increasing resistance to antibiotics.”

Big retailers like Whole Foods, Costco and Trader Joe’s are demanding more organic proteins, because more and more, consumers want purer foods for health reasons. Government health officials are all over this topic, encouraging us to pay attention and chat a little more about our chickens and such. In November, the CDC led a call for reduced use of antibiotics in animals; yet, the FDA data found 80 percent of antibiotics in the U.S. are used in animals to prevent infection in food farms. Have you seen Food, Inc?

Last month, Consumer Reports found that we’re willing to pay 5 cents more per pound for meat raised without antibiotics. Count me in. If you’re like me, and you believe in the stories from the chicken farm, know that you can make a healthier choice each time you go to the grocery store.

Related Links: 

Many Americans still in the dark about antibiotic resistance

12 greatest disease-fighting foods

CDC on antibiotic resistance




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