Saturday, June 18, 2011


Humphrey Bogart said, " A hot dog at the ballpark is better than steak at the Ritz." But Consumer Reports calls them "tidy little bundles, of sodium, additives and fat." And that's not all. Add microbes to that list. They're not present all the time, but they do crop up often enough to create risks for people who are particularly vulnerable - children, older adults, the frail or seriously ill, and pregnant women.

We think of them as "cooked meat." But actually, they can carry a variety of bacteria, especially the dangerous Listeria monocytogenes. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) calls Listeria monocytogenes "a major public health risk." An estimated 1,600 Americans become seriously ill with listeriosis every year and 260 die from it (remember - such statistics are always an underestimation). The U.K. Food Standards Agency has also seen an increase over the past few years in England, Wales and Scotland, and to a lesser extent, in Northern Ireland. There has been a particularly notable rise among adults over 60 years of age. Listeriosis is a global problem.

Studies have shown that the ready-to-eat foods - such as hot dogs and other deli meats - pose the biggest risk. As The Safe Food Handbook advises, you need to heat them to 165 degrees F. Essentially, that means "steaming hot." Be especially careful when using a barbecue as it is easy to undercook meat. And make sure that juice from the package doesn't get onto any other food that you'll eat raw. If you take those precautions you don't have to worry about the bacterial risk - just those other ones like the additives and fat!

To your good health,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoy the occasional hotdog, but I normally go to where they steam the dog (and the bun).. does this make it safer?