Meat preparation leaves kitchen with deadly pathogens - 11 Oct 2009  
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As some 8,000 people in the United States fell ill from 16 E. coli outbreaks over a three-year period, industry officials were prompted to recommend consumers ensure that hamburgers are cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to eliminate the danger of potentially deadly E. coli bacteria.

To evaluate the effectiveness of this approach, New York Times investigative journalist Michael Moss and investigations editor Christine Kay conducted an experiment using meat infected with a non-deadly form of E. coli.

Susan Levin, a registered dietitian and director of nutritional education at the US-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine explained the New York Times video documenting their investigation, called “Hamburger Confidential: Chasing E. coli in the Kitchen.” 

(Phone interview in English)

Susan Levin, RD, MS – Director of Nutrition Education, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, USA (F): They wanted to see if they followed the instructions written on the meat for food safety practices, if they would be in the clear. So they made burgers, in a real kitchen And I would just like to mention that you’d have to pretty much have a thermometer to see if you cooked the meat to the right temperature. You can’t do it by sight, because browning doesn’t necessarily mean that the E. coli is dead.

VOICE: While the experimenters did manage to cook the meat to the recommended temperature, investigative swabbing of kitchen objects before and after cooking showed that bacterial traces remained in many areas despite efforts to keep them clean.

Susan Levin, RD, MS (F): There were traces of E. coli left in the kitchen, on the cutting board that they’ve washed per the instruction, but the E. coli was still there. Their hand towel that they used to dry their hands didn’t have E. coli, but it had other bacteria and other pathogens common in meat.

VOICE: Meanwhile, the swine flu, another disease fraught with the hazards of meat production, continues to wreak havoc across the globe. Countless infections inevitably go untested and unreported, leaving the total number of cases unknown. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control announced a tally of 4,579global deaths, with new losses reported in India, Formosa (Taiwan), and South Korea.

In the US, 19 children have died of swine flu over the past few days, bringing the number of youths perished to 76, among more than 600 total national fatalities. With sadness for the afflicted, we pray for the day when people no longer need to mourn the loss of their children or other loved ones lost due to such terrible pathogens.

Our earnest appreciation, New York Times’ Mr. Moss and Ms. Kay, for demonstrating how the devastating harms of meat are so easily spread, despite guidelines to prevent them. We envision a world where all foods are plant-based and free of harm for our children’s safety.