The 10 Dirtiest Foods You're Eating
It seems like food recalls are in the news daily. Here's how to clean up dinner.
April 9, 2012— -- intro: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every day, 200,000 Americans contract food poisoning. But Philip Tierno, Ph.D., a microbiologist at New York University medical center and author of The Secret Life of Germs, pegs the true eat-'em-and-weep rate at around 800,000 a day. "Everyone in this country will have at least one incident of sickness this year attributable to a foodborne virus, bacteria, or toxin," Tierno says. Except that most of us won't know what hit us; we'll chalk up the usually mild symptoms -- nausea, diarrhea, cramping -- to "that stomach flu that's going around."
After considering incidence of foodborne outbreaks, relative danger of the dirt, and how often the carrier is found on our forks, we came up with a list of the edibles most likely to send your day spiraling down the crapper. We then assembled simple strategies for decontaminating the prime suspects -- from the supermarket to the supper table -- without worrying yourself sick. And what if, as with Jeff Cook, someone else does the cooking? We'll also tell you how to spot a dirty restaurant. Add it all up and what we're giving you is a recipe for clean living. (And check out The Healthiest Foods in America to find out which fare you should be adding to your shopping cart.)
quicklist: 1category: The 10 Dirtiest Foods You're Eatingtitle: Chickenurl: http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/50-ways-prepare-chicken-breast?cm_mmc=ABCNews-_-Top%205-_-The%2010%20Dirtiest%20Foods%20You're%20Eating-_-50%20Ways%20To%20Prepare%20A%20Chickentext: The dirt: Never mind cigarettes; the Surgeon General should slap a warning label on chicken. Recent nationwide testing by Consumers Union, the advocacy group behind Consumer Reports, notes that of the 484 raw broilers examined, 42 percent were infected by Campylobacter jejuni, and 12 percent by Salmonella enterides.
The latest USDA research notes similar Salmonella levels. Now add in the fact that we each consume about 70 pounds of chicken a year -- more than our intake of beef, pork, or turkey -- and it's a wonder broilers don't come with barf bags.
At the supermarket: Look for birds labeled "free range." Close quarters in the henhouse give bad bugs the chance to spread, as do high-volume processing operations. Free-range chickens, which are given more room to roost and are usually slaughtered in smaller numbers, present a potentially safer option. For example, Ranger chickens, a free-range brand sold in the Pacific Northwest, came up negative for Salmonella and Campylobacter in Consumers Union's tests.
At home: To help prevent foodborne illness, bypass rinsing your raw bird in the sink, and instead put it directly into a baking dish or pan. This shortcut reduces the odds of sullying counters and other foods, says Janet B. Anderson, R.D., director of the Safe Food Institute in North Logan, Utah. If you used a cutting board, clean it (and the knife) with a mild, dilute bleach solution. As for your heat treatment, cook breasts and other cuts until the temperature hits 180°F. (If it's a whole bird, take the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh.) "Poking the chicken or judging by juice color is risky," says Anderson. That said, chicken is one of the leanest, most protein packed meals you can eat. Learn these 50 Ways to Prepare Chicken to keep this meat delicious, meal after meal.