With the exception of prions—the infectious agents responsible for mad cow disease that can survive incineration at temperatures hot enough to melt lead—all viral, fungal, and bacterial pathogens in our food supply can be killed through proper cooking. Why then do tens of millions of Americans come down with food poisoning every year? Cross-contamination is thought to account for the bulk of infections. For example, retail chicken is so covered in bacteria that researchers at the University of Arizona found more fecal bacteria in the kitchen–on sponges, dishtowels, and in the sink drain–than they found swabbing the toilet. In a meat-eating family’s house, it may be safer to lick the rim of the toilet seat than the kitchen countertop because people aren’t preparing chickens in their toilets. I profile that study in today’s NutritionFacts.org video pick above.
For more on sushi safety see Allergenic Fish Worms; for more on poultry, Fecal Residues on Chicken and Chicken Out of UTIs; and for more on fecal contamination of the meat supply in general see Fecal Bacteria Survey, which I profiled in my Care2 Post on Wednesday: E. Coli O145 Ban Opposed by Meat Industry.
Michael Greger, M.D.
Image credit: Gerard Stolk (vers le Santiago) / Flickr