While a large number of chicken illnesses were due to clostridium perfringens, chicken led to many hospitalizations partly because of the high incidence of salmonella in chicken that isn’t properly cooked.
Most of the ground beef illnesses were from E. coli, which is found in the intestinal tracts of cattle and can transfer to the carcass if the meat isn’t handled properly during slaughter. Ground beef can be riskier than steak and other beef products because pathogens are spread during the grinding process.
According to the report, listeria, salmonella and E. coli required the most hospitalizations.
The group noted that the data is incomplete because so many foodborne illnesses are not reported or tracked. The CDC estimates that as many as 48 million Americans get sick from food poisoning each year.
To reduce foodborne illnesses from meat, CSPI recommends what they call “defensive eating” — assuming that meat can be unsafe. Safe handling includes not letting meat juices drip onto other food or counters, cleaning cutting boards and plates that have held raw meat, wearing gloves when preparing meat and washing hands often. Cooks should also make sure meat is heated to the proper temperature before eating it.