U.S. researchers say they have determined hogs raised on small farms have little or no Salmonella infections.

"These farms have very low levels of Salmonella," explained D.L. Harris, an Iowa State University Food Safety Consortium researcher and animal science professor. "They’re traditional farms that don’t use antibiotics."

Harris’ group surveyed 50 traditional family farms in the Midwest ranging in size from 20 to 150 sows. The researchers found practices such as maintaining small herd sizes, limiting the use of vaccines and refraining from using growth-promoting antibiotics did not translate into high prevalence of Salmonella. But such practices apparently don’t have as much affect on keeping Salmonella levels low as do other practices such as the use of meal feed and straw bedding.

Said Harris: "The difficulty comes in how they market their pigs. We know that they can get exposed to Salmonella on transport vehicles or when they’re held before they’re slaughtered. So here you’ve got this organic farmer doing a good job raising pigs and being welfare-conscious. But when he takes them to market they could be contaminated with Salmonella depending on how that phase is done."