When you sink your teeth into a juicy, tasty burger, the last thing on your mind is that you could be taking your life in your hands. But as it turns out, you may be playing Russian roulette with your health every time you take a bite.
That’s because the ground beef that makes up food favorites like hamburgers and meatballs can contain potentially deadly bacteria, such as E.coli (particularly Escherichia coli O157:H7), as well as Salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni, Listeria monocytogenes and Staphylococcus aureus—all of which can cause serious illness, especially if you’re very young, very old or have a compromised immune system.
An E-coli infection can bring on abdominal cramping, diarrhea (or bloody diarrhea), kidney failure and even death, while the Salmonella health risks include diarrhea, vomiting, fever and nausea, according to nutritionist Keri Glassman, author of “The O2 Diet: The Cutting Edge Antioxidant-Based Program That Will Make You Healthy, Thin, and Beautiful.” Not exactly what you’d call “good times.”
What’s more, “you can’t eye food-borne illness—you can’t see it or smell it,” says Dawn Undurraga, a nutritionist with the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. “And it only takes a little bit of E.coli to make people very sick.”
But the fact that eating ground beef can be a gamble shouldn’t come as a surprise. The news frequently reports recalls of ground beef tainted with E.coli. Just last month, Tyson Fresh Meats recalled more than 131,000 pounds of ground beef after a family in Ohio got sick from eating the manufacturer’s beef, which tested positive for E. coli O157:H7.
All four children in the family fell ill, including a nine-year-old with severe diarrhea who was hospitalized for 10 days.
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