READER DISCRETION ADVISED: Cookout Fun, Hold the E.Coli!

By Lee Bellinger / December 26, 2013

Would You Like Some E.Coli With That?

Burgers
What’s better than a sizzling burger or steak fresh off the barbeque? Juicy… tasty… meaty… and contaminated, according to disturbing new statistics we’ll unveil here.

And it’s not just the meat. Superbug contaminants are showing up in the produce section of your grocery store, too. It’s enough to turn your stomach.

Why Is My Food Sick?

If you eat meat, there’s a huge chance that your favorite meals are carrying superbugs. Nasty, mutated bacteria that can make you very sick and that aren’t easy for doctors to treat.

When tested, researchers found that 81 percent of ground turkey, 69 percent of pork chops, 55 percent of ground beef, and 39 percent of chicken breasts carry drug-resistant bacteria. Drug-resistant strains of E.coli, salmonella, and campylobacter are the most common.

Non-mutated forms of these bacteria result in millions of food poisoning cases every year, causing diarrhea, urinary tract infections, and pneumonia. But what we’re seeing now is worse. Much worse.

Because now, the strains that are making people sick don’t respond well to antibiotic treatment, leaving doctors with limited options for making you better should you develop an infection from one of these nasty bugs.

The reason this is happening is the misuse of antibiotics in our nation’s food production. We were shocked to learn that nearly 80 percent of the antibiotics used in the nation are sold to farmers raising livestock. The antibiotics keep the animals from developing infections, but they contribute to the rapid development of super strains of bacteria.

When the animals go to the butcher the anti-biotic resistant superbugs go with them. Then those deadly bacteria make their way to the grocery store and finally to your dinner plate.

Protect Yourself
From Contaminated Food

Fortunately, you don’t have to risk becoming sick because of contaminated meat.

The first option is to avoid contaminated meat altogether. This means buying from a local farmer who raises turkeys, chickens, pigs, or cows without the use of antibiotics. You’ll get a higher-quality product along with the peace of mind that comes with knowing your meat is superbug-free. You’ll pay more, but for my money, healthy, locally raised food is well worth it.

If you prefer the convenience and savings of the supermarket, you can still eat meat without fear. You just have to handle it properly.

  • Prepare meat away from the area you use for preparing raw vegetables. For example, in my kitchen vegetables get prepped on the island and meat gets prepped on the counter next to the stove.
  • After handling raw meat, always wash your hands thoroughly before touching anything else. Use soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds paying special attention to getting your fingernails and the space between your fingers clean.
  • Cook meat properly. Ground meats must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Whole cuts of meat like steaks can be cooked to the temperature you desire, but make sure you sear the outside with high heat.
  • Immediately rinse any cooking equipment you used to prepare raw meat, and put it in the dishwasher so it isn’t mistakenly used to prep something else.

Contaminated Vegetables:
The Biggest Risk

Meat more commonly carries drug-resistant superbugs, but contaminated vegetables actually present the bigger risk because you don’t always cook them. Out of 17 different food categories, produce causes 46 percent of all foodborne illnesses.

Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet can help you enjoy good, long-lasting health, but you don’t want to do it at the risk of foodborne bugs. So here again, food handling is important.

  • Store fruits and vegetables above raw meat in your fridge. If your fridge doesn’t have a meat drawer below your vegetable crispers, then use one of your crisper drawers for meat and the other for produce. Store extra produce on the bottom shelf toward the back.
  • Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before you eat them.
  • Always prepare fruits and vegetables away from the area where you handle raw meat.

Bacteria are in our food supply. Some will make you sick. Others are deadly and drug-resistant and could kill you. In this day and age of super farms, it’s almost impossible to avoid contaminated food, so you have to prepare your food correctly… or you run the risk of getting very sick.