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Food Safety Fears: What Can You Do?

Seems like every month a new food scare makes the national news. Most recently, it was antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens found in pork.

But whether pathogens are drug resistant or not, consumers should know that these microorganisms can be controlled by proper food handling and destroyed by proper cooking, according to Martin Bucknavage, Penn State Extension food safety specialist.

“All raw meat products—whether pork, beef, poultry, or fish—have the potential to carry bacterial pathogens, such as Salmonella or E. coli,” Bucknavage says. “Therefore, one needs to properly cook and handle raw meat to prevent any potential for illness. Antibiotic resistance adds no special ability for those bacterial pathogens to resist heating and cleaning with sanitizers.”

Poultry with thermometer. PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

Bucknavage recommends the following:

When cooking pork or any other meat, use a meat thermometer to ensure that it reaches the proper internal temperature, which kills potentially harmful bacteria (at least 145°F for whole cuts and 160°F for ground meat).

Keep raw meat and its juices separate from other foods, especially those foods that are eaten raw, such as salad.

Wash your hands and any kitchen surfaces or utensils thoroughly after handling or contacting raw meat.

Proper handling and cooking are the key to avoiding foodborne illness caused by microorganisms, antibiotic resistant or not.