Foodborne Illnesses in Meat and Poultry

BSE: Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“mad cow” disease), is transmitted by cattle feed containing contaminated animal parts. Organic beef (from cattle raised on vegetarian organic feed) is your safest bet. Avoid hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages, which may contain meat from many cows.

Campylobacter: Found in most chickens, this bacterium produces diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain and fever.

Dioxin: Dioxin is a carcinogenic compound that accumulates in animal fat. Choose lean cuts of meat to avoid it. Happily, grilling helps reduce fat in meat.

E. coli 0157:H7: A bacterium, often found in undercooked ground beef, causes bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps. To stay safe, buy whole cuts of meat, ask your grocer to grind them for you, and cook well.

Listeria: A bacterium primarily affecting pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems, listeria causes fever, muscle aches and sometimes nausea or diarrhea. It kills about 500 Americans annually. High-risk foods include hot dogs, deli meats, and unpasteurized milk or cheese.

Salmonella: Most often encountered in eggs and poultry, but it is also found in raw meat, fish and shrimp. Infections cause fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea and kill an estimated 600 Americans a year. Keep eggs refrigerated, avoid imported raw seafood (10 percent contain salmonella) and cook thoroughly.

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