The Essential Summer BBQ Accessory
Dietitian Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, says other careless practices include
serving the same batch of marinade used on raw meat as a sauce for the final
product, using a dirty grill, and guessing at the meat's internal temperature:
"People think, 'Oh well, I can look at the color of the meat'" to see
if it's done, Rosenbloom says. "I think you can get into trouble that
Another way to get into trouble is letting anything that's supposed to be
refrigerated sit out for longer than two hours. Rosenbloom, an associate
professor of nutrition at Georgia State University, in Atlanta, says it's also
a good idea to split deep-dish casseroles into smaller portions before
refrigerating them. That way, they'll cool down faster.
But refrigeration is no guarantee of anything when it comes to food
poisoning. Consider listeria, a bacterium that thrives in cold conditions. It
can cause pregnant women to miscarry and others to develop meningitis, an
infection of the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
"It's darn near impossible to eliminate," Doyle says, though he adds
that food processors are trying, by adding growth inhibitors to products, for
one thing. "The food industry in general has gone to great strides to
reduce listeria. The problem we have is the organism is so widespread."
It becomes especially widespread in certain types of foods, Doyle says, such
as processed meats and soft cheeses, even when they're within their shelf life.
Cooking destroys listeria, but the problem is that many of the foods in which
it can most readily multiply don't always get further cooking. One of these
foods is hot dogs. "They need to be cooked," Zellman says --
E. coli gets most of the press, with salmonella not far behind. But
neither leads the list, as far as causing food poisoning in the United States.
That honor goes to campylobacter, which the CDC estimates may cause up to 4
million cases a year of food poisoning -- with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
the most likely symptoms.
Less common is a long-term complication from campylobacter infection: the
development of Guillain-Barre syndrome, in which the body begins to attack some
of its own nerves, with weakness and paralysis resulting.
The most common place to find campylobacter? Raw chicken. Cook it to 180
degrees on the meat thermometer, the experts say, and it's safe to eat.