The 10 Dirtiest Foods You're Eating
Bill Phillips and the Editors of Men's Health
Monday, June 6, 2011
The dirt: When USDA inspectors last tested hamburger meat, they looked at 563 sources nationwide and discovered Clostridium perfringens in 53 percent of the batches, Staphylococcus in 30 percent, and Listeria monocytogenes in 12 percent. Interestingly, the USDA found no trace of Escherichia coli 0157:H7, a.k.a. E. coli, one of the desperadoes of foodborne illness. Despite this finding, if slaughterhouse safeguards fail (and they sometimes do), E. coli could potentially pop up in your next patty.
At the supermarket: "Find a grocery store that sells irradiated ground beef," says Donald W. Schaffner, Ph.D., an extension specialist in food science at Rutgers University. The package will bear the words "treated by irradiation." Schaffner gives the safety of the treatment a glowing review: "The amount of induced radioactivity is 200,000 times smaller than the level of radioactivity naturally present in all foods."
At home: Add fresh oregano to your burgers and meat loaf. When researchers at Kansas State University mixed a variety of common household spices into ground beef to test their antibacterial properties, oregano tested as one of the best at wiping out E. coli. Use at least 1 tablespoon per pound of meat. Just as important, flatten your patties—thick burgers will char on the outside before the interior reaches the required 160°F.