E. coli and Salmonella are, unfortunately, household words these days.
E. coli O157:H7 is the pathogen most commonly found in ground beef when it is contaminated. Between 2003 and 2012, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tracked nearly 400 E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks.
Over 4,900 E. coli cases were confirmed. Of those, more than 1,200 people had to be hospitalized. Thirty four people died.
The news is no better for Salmonella. Rates of Salmonella food poisoning are increasing, and have been linked to overuse of antibiotics in the meat industry. In studying 14 Salmonella outbreaks, the CDC found that 8 were resistant to at least one class of antimicrobial drugs. Ground beef was the source in those 8 outbreaks.
Food Safety News also quoted Dr. L. Hannah Gould, Ph.D., leader of the National Outbreak Reporting System Team at the CDC, as saying “data show a sharp increase in ground beef-related Salmonella outbreaks after 2000.” She went on to say that “outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella in ground beef appear to be a growing problem.”
But it’s not just ground beef, friends. Even if you avoid red meat you’re not safe from the creepy crawlies. Check out this sampling from the latest FDA list of recalls; it’s interesting reading:
- “Schreiber Processing Corp. Recalls Chicken Tender Products Due to Possible Foreign Matter Contamination and Misbranding.” Approximately 2,300 pounds of chicken tenders “may” be contaminated with plastic and misbranded. Too bad for every kid in America, right, since they all pretty much live on chicken tenders and fries?
- Or skip over to “Pork Rinds & Snacks, LLC, a Spartanburg, S.C. establishment, is recalling approximately 7,629 pounds of pork skin products that may be contaminated with Salmonella.”
- And there’s also “Schnuck Markets Inc., O’Fallon, Mo. establishment, is recalling approximately 62 pounds of ready-to-eat grilled chicken products due to undercooking.“
- Our friends at National Steak and Poultry had the same problem, but with a slightly larger amount of meat involved: “National Steak and Poultry, an Owasso, Okla., establishment, is recalling approximately 1,976,089 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken products due to adulteration because of possible undercooking.”
I hope you dairy lovers don’t think I forgot about Listeria monocytogenes. This little beauty is a lesser known, but quite serious pathogen. “Only” about 1,600 people living in the U.S. get listeriosis each year, but that’s not good news. Most of them require hospitalization, and 1 in 5 will die. Not good odds. If you get listeriosis while you’re pregnant, miscarriage, newborn death or stillbirth are real possibilities; fetal loss occurs about 20% of the time in those cases.