From homemade burgers to casseroles and tacos, ground beef is an American staple. Yet Consumer Reports tests show that almost all ground beef includes toxins and bacteria that can make you seriously ill. Undercooked ground beef is the most dangerous, but the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia reports that 28 percent of Americans don’t fully cook their ground beef.
• When Consumer Reports tested 458 pounds of ground beef, they found that every pound was contaminated. Contaminants included, but weren’t limited to fecal matter and bacterial contaminants.
• About 20 percent of the ground beef tested held C. perfringens. This strain of bacteria causes almost a million instances of food poisoning every year.
• Some contaminants can’t be destroyed even if the meat is fully cooked.
• Contaminated meat can lead to E. coli O157 infections.
• The ratio of reported instances of E. coli to actual existing instances of E. coli is 1:26. So for every case of E. coli you read about or hear about, there are 26 more that are probably being treated at home as a “stomach bug” or “flu.”
• During the processing stages, one contaminated animal can spread their toxins to all of the packing and processing equipment, sometimes contaminating thousands of packages of ground beef.
• To avoid contaminants, look to sustainably raised beef that is likely to be processed in smaller numbers (leaving less potential for contamination). You’ll pay more for your beef, but you’ll also avoid some of the chemicals and toxins commonly found in mass produced packages of ground beef.