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Chicken, Ground Beef Considered Riskiest Meats, Study Says

Chicken, Ground Beef Considered Riskiest Meats, Study Says

Lower on the totem pole but still pretty gnarly? Steak and turkey

Guess ham and cheese sandwiches are on the lunch menu for the next week. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has analyzed more than 33,000 cases of foodbourne illnesses from 1998 to 2010, and it turns out that chicken and ground beef have caused the most illnesses over time.

Of all the illnesses reported, one-third of them were caused by E. coli and salmonella. Chicken and ground beef accounted for almost 3,500 cases of illness, while steak and other cuts of beef accounted for about 2,300 cases. Also high on the danger list? Turkey, the Thanksgiving favorite, which caused a little less than 1,600 cases. All of these outbreaks tended to be more severe than outbreaks from barbecue, deli meat, pork, and roast beef (considered "medium" risk meats).

If you're wary of eating meat, however, the CSPI has also compiled a list of "low risk" meats, with fewer outbreaks and less severe consequences. Try your hand at chicken nuggets, ham, and sausage, which the CSPI ranks as "low risk." You might not be able to get your filet mignon, but we count prosciutto as a cured ham. That works, right?

What Meat Can You Eat for a Gallbladder Diet?

If you have gallbladder pain attacks because of gallstones, tweaking your diet may help. Gallstones are associated with high-fat and high-sugar diets, while fiber-rich foods and lean sources of protein are linked to a lower risk of gallbladder issues.

Swap out fatty meats for lean poultry, fish, shellfish and vegetarian sources of protein. Because cholesterol may be linked to gallstone problems, try to limit meats that contain a high level of cholesterol and saturated fats.

What Is Diverticulitis?

The National Institute of Digestive and Diabetes and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) explains that diverticular disease is an umbrella term for gut symptoms caused by diverticulosis and diverticulitis. Diverticulosis is the general condition, which occurs when small pouches (called diverticula) form and push outward through weak spots in the wall of your colon (bowel).

Diverticulosis is more common with age, and 58 percent of people over the age of 60 have the condition. Diverticulitis refers to the symptoms you get when one, or a few, of the pouches in the wall of your colon become inflamed.

According to the NIDDK, you may have diverticulosis with no symptoms, or it may cause varying degrees of constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating. Diverticulitis — which only about 5 percent of people with diverticulosis go on to develop — most often causes severe abdominal pain. Diverticular bleeding can also occur as a symptom of diverticular disease.

"Riskiest Meats" for Foodborne Illness Outbreaks Identified

The meats posing the greatest human health risks from foodborne illness threats are chicken and ground beef, according to rankings released by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

In a study, entitled “Risky Meat: A Field Guide to Meat & Poultry Safety,” [PDF] the CSPI ranked 12 categories of meat and poultry based on outbreak reports associated with the types of meat, as well as the likelihood of hospitalizations connected with the outbreaks, reports Food Safety News.Read more about food outbreaks

The report looked at the foodborne illnesses between the years 1998 and 2010, totaling more than 1,700 outbreaks and 33,000 illnesses. Ground beef and chicken were given the "highest risk" categorization because in the 12 years studied, chicken was linked with 452 outbreaks and nearly 7,000 illnesses, and ground beef was connected with 336 outbreaks and more than 3,800 illnesses.

"High risk" meats included turkey and other beef products such as steak. "Medium risk" included deli meats, pork products and roast beef and the "low risk" category included chicken nuggets, ham and sausage.

CSPI says it published the report to “inform stakeholders throughout the food chain of steps to minimize risks inherent in these foods,” as well as to help consumers "take precautionary steps, such as safer handling and more thorough cooking.” The USDA Food and Safety Inspection Service responded to the report by saying initiatives are already underway to reduce the prevalence of harmful pathogens.Read more about safe food handling

Food Safety News reports that Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety said, “We applaud CSPI’s ongoing efforts to educate consumers about food safety." She added that "while we have made progress in making food safer-including cutting E. coli O157-related illnesses in half, we still have work to do. As Salmonella rates continue to stagnate, we look forward to CSPI’s support, and the support of other groups committed to food safety, of our efforts to reduce this dangerous foodborne pathogen, including modernization of the poultry inspection system.”

Red and white meats are equally bad for cholesterol, study finds

The key takeaway from the study, nutritionists say, is to watch out for saturated fat, no matter the protein source. And when it comes to poultry versus red meat, "it's easier to get higher amounts of saturated fat from some cuts of red meat," said Elizabeth Kitchin, assistant professor of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who wasn't involved with the research.

Still, it was unexpected that poultry had the effect on cholesterol levels that it did.

"I was surprised that the effect of white meat on cholesterol levels was identical to the effects of red meat," said Dr. Ronald Krauss, study author and director of atherosclerosis research at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute.

In the study, 113 adults were randomly assigned to one of three diets for one month: rich in lean cuts of beef, lean cuts of chicken or turkey, or plant proteins. After each month, the participants' diet was changed, so that each participant ended up trying all three diets. However, half of the participants' diets, regardless of protein source, were high in saturated fat the other half ate a low-saturated fat diet.

After each month, the researchers measured the participants' levels of LDL cholesterol, the so-called bad cholesterol.

"Keeping all else constant — even the level of animal fat — the levels were higher on both sources of meat compared to the nonmeat diet," Krauss told NBC News.


Feature Health matters: The truth about red meat

Researchers said that the findings may not affect most people who aren't at high risk for heart disease. When participants' diets were low in saturated fat, the rise in LDL was minimal regardless of whether they ate chicken or lean red meat. But for the person actively trying to bring down high levels of LDL cholesterol, researchers said, it may be worth cutting back on both red and white meats, and relying more on plant proteins.

Red meat is a source of high-quality protein, zinc, iron and vitamin B12, but most nutritionists agree that it is best to choose a lean cut in a modest portion for optimal health benefits. The positives of having red or white meat can be canceled out if too much saturated fat, from any source, is included in one’s diet.

Previous evidence shows that fatty red meat is a prime source of artery-clogging saturated fat, a factor associated with heart disease. And two studies published last year showed that people who eat red meat — but not vegetarians or people who eat only white meat such as chicken — have higher levels in the blood of a chemical called TMAO, which has been linked to higher heart disease risk.

The researchers cautioned against demonizing any food based on one study. "People often get the impression that if something raises cholesterol, it should be eliminated," Krauss said. "I don't want people to get too focused on an all or nothing approach."

Indeed, the American Heart Association recommends a combination of poultry, fish, vegetable proteins and lean red meat for a heart-healthy diet.

"For many people a varied approach including any or all of these foods within the context of high fruit, vegetable and whole grain, nuts/seeds/legume intake along with polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils can serve as a healthy eating pattern with plenty of variety," Dr. Linda Van Horn, a volunteer nutrition expert with the AHA, told NBC News.

Other outside experts also pointed out that diet is just one factor when it comes to overall heart disease risk.

"This study focused on just saturated fat," Kitchin told NBC News. "There are a lot of other risk factors for heart disease, like extra body weight and inactivity, that are big players in heart disease."

Erika Edwards is a health and medical news writer and reporter for NBC News and "TODAY."

Dr. Shamard Charles is a physician-journalist for NBC News and Today, reporting on health policy, public health initiatives, diversity in medicine, and new developments in health care research and medical treatments.

Ground beef, chicken more likely to cause severe foodborne illnesses in U.S.

WASHINGTON Ground beef and ground chicken cause more hospitalizations than other meats in the American food supply, a new report finds.

An analysis by the consumer advocacy group the Center for Science in Public Interest that looked at more than 33,000 cases of foodborne illness also showed that

chicken nuggets, ham and sausage pose the lowest risk of foodborne illness for Americans.

The nonprofit used U.S. government data on 1,700 outbreaks over 12 years to analyze salmonella, E. coli, listeria and other pathogens that were definitively linked to a certain meat.

"Outbreaks from ground beef and chicken are reported frequently, and all too often cause debilitating illnesses--illnesses that lead to hospitalization," CSPI food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal, said in a written statement.

To calculate which meats were riskiest, CSPI ranked the foods in which contamination was most likely to cause hospitalizations.

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For example, about one quarter of people sickened with the salmonella bacteria are hospitalized, according to DeWaal. Most people recover without treatment after four to seven days.

Some meats in the CSPI's study may have caused more foodborne illnesses than ground beef and chicken, but were less likely to cause severe illness.

After ground beef and chicken, CSPI categorized turkey and steak and other forms of beef as "high risk" and deli meat, pork, roast beef and barbequed meats as "medium risk."

Salmonella and E. coli, pathogens that contaminate meat and poultry during slaughter and processing, accounted for about one third of the total illnesses surveyed. Clostridium perfringens, a lesser-known pathogen that usually grows after processing when foods are left at improper temperatures for too long by consumers or food establishments, accounted for another third.

While a large number of chicken illnesses were due to clostridium perfringens, chicken led to many hospitalizations partly because of the high incidence of salmonella in chicken that isn't properly cooked.

Most of the ground beef illnesses were from E. coli, which is found in the intestinal tracts of cattle and can transfer to the carcass if the meat isn't handled properly during slaughter. Ground beef can be riskier than steak and other beef products because pathogens are spread during the grinding process.

According to the report, listeria, salmonella and E. coli required the most hospitalizations.

The group noted that the data is incomplete because so many foodborne illnesses are not reported or tracked. The CDC estimates that as many as 48 million Americans get sick from food poisoning each year.

The full report can be accessed on the CSPI's website.

To reduce foodborne illnesses from meat, CSPI recommends what they call "defensive eating" - assuming that meat can be unsafe. Safe handling includes not letting meat juices drip onto other food or counters, cleaning cutting boards and plates that have held raw meat, wearing gloves when preparing meat and washing hands often. Cooks should also make sure meat is heated to the proper temperature before eating it.

Last week, a CDC study reported increases in food poisoning rates linked to Campylobacter, a bacteria found in raw milk and poultry. The agency also reported upticks in rates of Vibrio, a bacteria associated with shellfish.

First published on April 23, 2013 / 2:29 PM

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Meat Your Match

Given its environmental message, Impossible Foods has, not surprisingly, commissioned extensive studies into the benefits of switching to plant-based meats, including a 2019 life-cycle assessment comparing conventional beef to the Impossible Burger. These types of assessments are in-depth estimations of the energy, water and land required to make a product, as well as the volume of greenhouse gases the process generates, phosphate runoff (from manure and chemical fertilizers) that pollutes rivers and oceans, and other factors. Many companies use life-cycle studies to identify inefficiencies in their manufacturing and find ways to reduce their planetary impact. And the scientists who conduct these studies will admit: they can be powerful marketing tools.

To complete the life-cycle assessment on the Impossible Burger, a consulting firm named Quantis calculated hundreds of data points related to every ingredient used in the burger patty, including how much water, pesticides and fertilizers it takes to produce the soybeans, the energy required to refine the coconut oil from the Philippines, as well as the resources used to process the plant-based meat itself. Quantis even figured out how much fuel it took to transport ingredients to the company&aposs Oakland factory, based on the weight the average semi hauls. Then it compared the results to data from a conventional beef supplier in the Western plains.

Like the majority of the farms raising cattle for beef in the U.S., this unnamed producer raises a calf with its mother on pasture for the first six to eight months of its life, then transitions it to a mix of hay and spent distillers&apos grains for a few months before moving it to a feedlot, where it bulks up on grains, such as corn, until it reaches slaughter weight. The researchers asked an equally dizzying number of questions about that process, too: How much fertilizer did the feed corn require? How much land was required to produce the alfalfa, and how far was it transported to the ranch? How much methane did the average steer expel over the course of its life?

The study found that the Impossible Burger requires 96% less land, contributes 90% less phosphates to the soil and waterways and produces 89% less greenhouse gas emissions.

Quantis used all these calculations to compare 1 kilogram of Impossible Burger "meat" to 1 kg of beef. The study found that the Impossible Burger requires 96% less land, contributes 90% less phosphates to the soil and waterways and produces 89% less greenhouse gas emissions. These dramatic numbers are echoed in similar life-cycle assessments that other plant-based meat companies�yond Meat, Quorn and MorningStar Farms—have commissioned.

Of course, many of the data points in these studies involve speculative number-crunching, and there&aposs no way to prove real environmental impact. "Whenever you read life-cycle assessments, understand that researchers can cherry-pick data in the existing literature to come up with the right answer for their objective," says Jason Rowntree, Ph.D., an associate professor of animal science at Michigan State University, who studies ranching. And he&aposs saying that as someone who has conducted these types of studies.

Rebekah Moses, head of sustainability at Impossible Foods, admits the study does a lot of hairsplitting, but says that it is an effective way to communicate bigger ideas, like the global impact of giving up beef. Choosing plant-based meat over animals, she says, is an "elegant solution" to climate change. "This is one of the only viable, scalable, transformative tools we have," she says. In a 2018 study published in the journal Science, agricultural researchers analyzed hundreds of life-cycle assessments to calculate the global impact of going completely plant-based. It found that this type of diet would reduce the land required to produce food by an area as big as Africa and lower the amount of greenhouse gas emissions enough to offset the total amount produced in the U.S. annually𠅆.6 billion metric tons. Water use, as well as land and water pollution from inputs like pesticides and fertilizers, would also drop precipitously. Granted, these benefits would come from nixing all meat, but giving up beef would account for the largest share of them.

I called up chef Anthony Myint, co-founder of Mission Chinese Food and Zero Foodprint, a San Francisco-based organization that helps restaurants reduce their carbon footprints, to see what he made of studies like this. He told me that he was originally excited about the possibilities of plant-based meats, but eventually decided that they reinforced the status quo. "If we assume that we can&apost change a single thing about the agricultural industry, and that the goal is to make the best choice, then plant-based meats make sense compared to factory-farmed meat. But if the goal is to actually move toward solutions, then that becomes a different conversation."

He emailed me a life-cycle assessment on a farm using regenerative agriculture methods to raise beef, which is how I ended up on a video call with a rancher on horseback.

CSPI: Chicken, ground beef riskiest when it comes to pathogens

WASHINGTON, April 23 (UPI) -- An analysis of some 33,000 cases of food-borne illness found ground beef and chicken were the riskiest meats for germs such as E. coli, a U.S. non-profit says.

Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, said hospitalizations caused by Salmonella put chicken in the "highest risk" category alongside with ground beef.

Clostridium and norovirus also caused outbreaks associated with chicken, while campylobacter bacteria was also believed to cause a large number of individual illnesses associated with chicken but rarely caused outbreaks, DeWaal said.

"Outbreaks from ground beef and chicken were reported frequently, and all too often caused debilitating illnesses -- illnesses that led to hospitalization," DeWaal said in a statement. "For example, approximately a quarter of those who were sickened by Salmonella would go to the hospital. The hospitalization rate for E. coli infections was nearly 50 percent and for Listeria infections it is more than 90 percent."

Chicken nuggets, ham and sausage pose the lowest risk of food-borne illness, DeWaal said.

The report, "Risky Meat: A Field Guide to Meat & Poultry Safety," also found meat of high risk included steak and other forms of beef, but excluded roast beef, which was of medium risk. Also of high risk was turkey, often from leaving cooked turkey on the counter too long.

Medium risk meat included barbecue, deli meat, pork -- excluding ham and sausage -- and roast beef.

The CSPI stressed the analysis only assessed food safety risk and did not address nutrition or the healthiness of the meat.

"U.S. meat and poultry companies produce 90 billion pounds of meat and poultry products a year and 99.99 percent of these are consumed safely," James H. Hodges, president of the American Meat Institute Foundation said in a statement.

A new and thorough report from the CSPI focuses only on meat and poultry. A broader examination of the total food supply could have delivered a more meaningful examination of food safety risk from our normal diets and would have shown that we have a meat and poultry supply that delivers consistently safe eating experiences, Hodges said.

In fact, when CSPI looked more broadly at the food supply in the outbreak analysis they released last month, they noted declines in foodborne outbreaks related to E. coli, Salmonella and other pathogens of more than 40 percent, Hodges said.

"Better food safety practices, notably the adoption of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points programs in the meat, poultry, and seafood industries, might have contributed to the decline," CSPI wrote, Hodges said.

Hazard analysis and critical control points is a systematic preventive approach to food safety and allergenic, chemical, and biological hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe, and designs measurements to reduce these risks to a safe level.

"We do agree with CSPI's perspective that better food attribution data is needed to understand the causes of food-borne illnesses and potential strategies for improvement," Hodges said.

A simple, rapid test to help ensure safer meat

Deciding whether to cook or toss a steak that's been in the fridge for a few days calls for a sniff test. This generally works well for home cooks. But food manufacturers that supply tons of meats to consumers require more reliable measures. In a new journal called ACS Sensors, scientists report a simple method that uses nanotubes to quickly detect spoilage. It could help make sure meats are safe when they hit store shelves.

Transporting meats and seafood from the farm or sea to the market while they're still fresh is a high priority. But telling whether a product has gone bad isn't a simple process. Current strategies for measuring freshness can be highly sensitive to spoilage but require bulky, slow equipment, which prevents real-time analysis. Some newer methods designed to speed up the testing process have fallen short in sensitivity. Yanke Che and colleagues wanted to develop one simple test that could deliver both rapid and sensitive results.

The researchers turned to highly fluorescent, hollow nanotubes that grow dim when they react with compounds given off by meat as it decomposes. To test the nanotubes, the team sealed commercial samples—1 gram each—of pork, beef, chicken, fish and shrimp in containers for up to four days. When they exposed the portable system to a teaspoon of vapor emitted by the samples, it reacted in under an hour, fast enough to serve as a real-time measure of freshness. The researchers also found that if the tubes' glow dulled by more than 10 percent, this meant a sample was spoiled.

Highly fluorescent nanotubes assembled from designed asymmetric perylene diimide molecules (PDIs) exhibit high sensitivity (lowering the existing detection limit to ppb levels) and selectivity to amines in the vapor phase, which renders them capable of monitoring and assessing the deterioration of meat.

But I Forgot, Vaccines are made on Animal Protein…

However, last night Edel, who is the parent of a very troubled little dog, highlighted an interesting piece she found on the internet last night that got me thinking. It read:

The viruses vaccine are made of need to grow on animal tissue – so vaccine manufacturers grow your dog’s vaccine on chicken embryos and cow fetuses.

When they make the vaccine that animal tissue gets ground up with the virus and injected into your dog. As foreign animal proteins are not supposed to enter the bloodstream directly [as while whole] this sets the immune system into high alert…

Asides the mention of embryos and fetuses above (almost all vaccines are most certainly based on beef, chicken or pork serum, in other words using their blood, not their embryos), this makes a lot of sense. There is chicken protein in your flu and yellow fever vaccines, as well as single measels and mumps jabs (but not the MMR jab, which is beef based).

Catherine O’Driscoll wrote an interesting piece for Dogs Naturally Magazine entitled “Vaccine Contamination“. In it she quote Dr. Larry Glickman of Purdue University, who’s team conducted a study to detect autoantibodies in dogs post vaccination. In response to a question from a concerned pet owner regarding her Cavalier King Charles, Dr. Glickman states:

Our ongoing studies of dogs show that following routine vaccination, there is a significant rise in the level of antibodies dogs produce against their own tissues. Some of these antibodies have been shown to target the thyroid gland, connective tissue such as that found in the valves of the heart, red blood cells, DNA, etc. I do believe that the heart conditions in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels could be the end result of repeated immunizations by vaccines containing tissue culture contaminants that cause a progressive immune response directed at connective tissue in the heart valves. The clinical manifestations would be more pronounced in dogs that have a genetic predisposition [although] the findings should be generally applicable to all dogs regardless of their breed.

While they have developed a plant-based vaccine for chickens based on the tobacco plant, who’s to say this will be better?!

As the evidence grows quickly against the use of annual boosters in already vaccinated pets, this sound theory is just another nail in the coffin.

So how many nails will be needed? How many sick dogs? How many deaths before this odious practice is stamped out?

If you suspect your dog is suffering a food intolerance (most often these dogs exhibit a recurring skin or gut condition, one that your vet has given repeat prescriptions of powerful drugs for, but to no avail) then I urge you to grab a cup of tea and read our well-read article on Food Allergies in Dogs. Their problem is most likely caused by processed food and cured with its removal. You have nothing to lose in giving it a try. They have everything to gain.

Dr. Conor Brady

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