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Chop Deadly: Chicken, Ground Beef Are the Most Dangerous Meats, CSPI Says

Update Date: Apr 23, 2013 01:08 PM EDT

Ground beef and chicken are the most popular meats to eat in the United States. Unfortunately, according to a report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), they are the most dangerous. Those meats have been responsible for the most outbreaks of food-borne pathogens over the past 12 years.

The designation was made when the CSPI analyzed over 33,000 cases of food-borne illnesses over the over decade-long time period. Using the findings from the cases, the organization created a pyramid that classified meats according to their level of risk. Ground beef and chicken are considered to have the highest risk because they had the most cases of food-borne illnesses, and the outbreaks tended to be more severe.

"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 statement. "For example, approximately a quarter of those who are sickened by Salmonella will go to the hospital. The hospitalization rate for E. coli infections is nearly 50 percent and for Listeria infections it is more than 90 percent."

According to MyHealthNewsDaily, grilled, ground and roasted chicken products were responsible for 6,896 cases and 452 outbreaks of food-related illnesses. Ground beef came in second, with 336 outbreaks and 3,801 illnesses. Other high-risk products included turkey and steak, which held responsibility for 130 and 82 outbreaks respectively. Deli meats, pork and roast beef were considered to be medium-risk, while chicken nuggets, ham and sausage were considered to be low-risk.

WTOP reports that one of the major issues with contaminated meat is when they are placed under heating lamps in restaurants. While the bulbs are able to keep meat warm, they also are responsible for a third of food-borne illnesses. If meat is kept under the lamps for too long, it creates a breeding ground for bacteria.

The report has drawn some criticism. Some note that all food carry health risks. In fact, produce, which is often eaten raw, is the largest carrier of food-borne pathogens.

Experts say to be careful with all foods: wash produce thoroughly and make sure that meat is fully cooked.

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