POCATELLO, Idaho - As the weather starts to warm up, many people are already starting to fire-up those barbecues. One recent study released today by the Center for Science in the Public Interest indicates that your hamburgers can make you sick.
The report shows that ground beef and chicken are the leading causes of food-borne illnesses than any other meat. The study analyzed 12 years of government data which showed various dangerous pathogens such as E.coli and salmonella linked to these meat products.
Health officials explain why this is the case.
"A lot of it is cross-contamination, people not washing their hands, and not cooking foods to the proper internal temperatures," Southeast Idaho Public Health environmental health specialist Carolee Cooper said.
Cooper also noted the proper temperature to cook ground beef is 155-degrees, while chicken stands at a hot 165 degrees.
But, the temperatures are not all that matter.
Cooper said contamination occurs anywhere from the kill site, up until the packing process.
Jesse Anderson owns a meat packing plant in Pocatello which has been in his family for the past four generations. He said he has never seen an issue with any of his customers falling ill to any food-borne illnesses from the meat that comes from his facility.
"All of our tables are disinfected before we use them," Anderson said. "We make sure to wash everything."
Anderson said the key to staying free of dangerous pathogens from growing on the meat products is to keep everything washed, and to put their sub-zero degree flash freezer to good use.
Cooper said, although freezing the meat will not kill the pathogens, it stops them from spreading until the meat is cooked.
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