Dangerous Superbugs Hiding in Your Dinner

Anna Maltby, SELF magazine

Farms helped create lethal, drug-resistant bacteria. Government has ignored the problem. And now almost anything you put in your grocery cart-meat, poultry, seafood or produce-could be contaminated. Here's a guide to keep your supper safe!

POULTRY AND EGGS


Buy: Look for certified humane or organic. (Phrases such as cage-free, free-range and natural mean nothing when it comes to antibiotics.) Safest of all: egg substitutes, which are pasteurized.

Prep:
Keep raw chicken unrinsed, so you don't splash bacteria around your sink. Store raw chicken or ground turkey in the fridge, and use or freeze within one or two days. Cooked turkey is good for three to four days.

Cook:
Make sure poultry reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Put eggs in an omelet-they are safest when both white and yolk are firm.


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MEATS


Buy: Organic beef or pork is antibiotic-free; grass-fed and natural may not be. Put raw meat in your grocery cart last, and if you have a long drive home, consider keeping a cooler and ice in your car.

Prep:
No need to rinse meat, either; cooking will kill any buys on the surface. Freeze or store raw cuts in the fridge for three to five days, but keep ground meat only one or two days.

Cook:
Cook ground beef, pork and lamb to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees; steaks, chops and roasts to 145 degrees.


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SHRIMP


Buy: Choose antibiotic-free farmed or domestic wild varieties. Fresh shrimp have translucent, shiny flesh. Buying frozen? Avoid bags or boxes with ice crystals-they may have been thawed and refrozen.

Prep:
Store shrimp in the fridge or on ice, and use it within two days; or wrap it in plastic, foil or moistureproof paper and freeze.

Cook:
Cook to 145 degrees or until the shrimp looks opaque. Keep shrimp cocktail on ice, and serve small portions at a time, keeping extras in the fridge. Refrigerate leftovers after two hours.

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VEGETABLES

Buy: Resistant bacteria have been found on carrots, greens, tomatoes and sprouts. Buy the freshest possible greens; damaged packaging may indicate poor handling.

Prep:
Cut away damaged or bruised parts (or toss sad-looking leaves); then wash greens under running water and dry with a paper towel.

Cook:
If you've stored and washed them properly, raw greens are fine. But always cook alfalfa, radish and clover sprouts-their ideal growing conditions are the same warm, humid temps that bacteria love.

FRUIT AND JUICE

Buy: Check labels on fresh-squeezed juice to be sure it's pasteurized, or ask vendors at the farmer's market. Precut fruit has more of the moisture germs thrive in, so make sure it's been stored cold.

Prep:
Remove damaged or bruised parts. Wash all fruit, even if it has a peel, because you could transfer bacteria when you slice it. Scrub firm fruits such as melons with a brush.

Cook:
You're not likely to cook fruit or juice, but prepare and serve it on clean surfaces that haven't been cross-contaminated with juices from raw or cooked meats.


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