Thursday, March 09, 2006

Pathogens - Public Education Needed

Some experts believe the public is seriously underestimating the various risks posed by food borne diseases and hazards.

"Experts thought that while the public has a fairly accurate idea of the risks associated with the well-known hazards, Salmonella and E. coli, they believe that they are considerably underestimating the risk associated with the lesser-known microbiological hazards, Listeria and Campylobacter."

In our BLV Health Watch special article titled "Tainted Meat" we touched on the dangers present. Think these microbiological hazards don't exist in USA meat products? Think again. Here are just a few facts to consider:

1. A report by the USDA estimates that 89% of US beef patties contain traces of the deadly E. coli strain. Reuters News Service 8/10/00

2. US pigs who have pneumonia at time of slaughter: 70%

3. Primary source of Campylobacter bacteria: Contaminated chicken flesh

4. People in the US who become ill with Campylobacter poisoning every day: estimated at more than 5,000

5. American turkeys sufficiently contaminated with Campylobacter to cause illness: 90%

6. Americans sickened from eating Salmonella-tainted eggs every year: More than 650,000

7. Americans killed from eating Salmonella-tainted eggs every year: 600

8. Increase in Salmonella poisoning from raw or undercooked eggs between 1976 and 1986: 600%

9. 90% of US chickens are infected with leukosis -- chicken cancer -- at the time of slaughter.

Perhaps one of the toughest areas for safety are related to our water supply. One particularly difficult pathogen to detect in our waters (and believed by some experts to be related to Chrons disease) is M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis which according to one study can also be carried to our waters by air.

When you read reports about cooking your meat thoroughly, and about safe handling of meat in your home, take it seriously. The new factory farming methods for producing our meat (and related products) bring with them a host of food safety issues that we all need further education on, in my humble opinion.