4:24pm

Thu May 5, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

An Oxymoron Good For Public Health: Hot Cold Cuts

As we note pretty often on Shots, germs in food are a real public health menace. Salmonella, norovirus and other bugs in food make 1 in 6 Americans sick each year.

That's why the Food and Drug Administration is implementing new rules to improve food safety. And some big recalls of tomatoes and salad fixings are underscoring the point.

And then, there's lunch meat. USA Today reminded some of us that we really should be heating up our cold cuts, hot dogs and deli meats to kill any Listeria monocytogenes that might be lurking in them.

Sounds like a joke, right? Wrong!

As the paper notes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been recommending for years that pregnant women, older people and people with weak immune systems heat cold cuts to at least 165 degrees before eating them.

Each year, listeriois, the infection caused by the bacteria, hits about 1,600 Americans, killing 260, the CDC estimates. Processed meats are big source of the illnesses.

OK, so are you doing it? I've got to admit that unless I'm cooking up a reuben, I'm not. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.