Factory farming methods may be efficient and cost-effective, but they produce a number of side effects that can threaten your health and even your life. Contamination with disease-causing fecal bacteria is one of them.
To combat foodborne illness, the food industry has created solutions that further worsen matters — sterilization methods such as high heat, chemicals (chlorine-based or lactic acid washes, for example), and/or radiation are all common industry attempts to "sterilize" your food before it reaches the store.
Yet the central issue remains unaddressed, which is the lack of hygiene standards in the raising, slaughtering, and processing of the animals.
A large percentage of meat products become contaminated when the animals' intestines are punctured and stool spills onto the meat being processed.
This is the real problem — not undercooking, as properly processed healthy meat will not harm you if it's undercooked because it will not be contaminated with fecal bacteria.
In 2011, researchers found about half of all meats and poultry sold in grocery stores were contaminated with drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, the bacteria that causes most staph infections.
Ground Beef Accounts for Most E. Coli Outbreaks
As reported by Consumer Reports:
"Just before the July 4 holiday this year, 13.5 tons of ground beef and steak destined for restaurants and other food-service operations were recalled on a single day because of possible contamination with... E. coli O157:H7.
That particular bacterial strain can release a toxin that damages the lining of the intestine, often leading to abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and in some cases, life-threatening kidney damage...
Between 2003 and 2012, there were almost 80 outbreaks of E. coli O157 due to tainted beef, sickening 1,144 people, putting 316 in the hospital, and killing five. Ground beef was the source of the majority of those outbreaks."
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) epidemiologist Hannah Gould, food poisoning is vastly underreported. The CDC estimates that for every reported case of E. coli O157, another 26 incidences go unreported.
Beef is also a common cause of salmonella outbreaks.