"We know that there are foods that are risky, such as raw oysters, and that practices for handling and preparing food need to improve throughout the food chain from the farm to the table," he said. "But one sign I have seen comes from the businesses that aid victims of foodborne illness -- the food-illness lawyers.

"According to a posting by one of the preeminent firms from that group, business is down."

The other report that garnered media attention, "Risky Meat: A CSPI Field Guide to Meat and Poultry Safety," was issued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Bucknavage suggested the title of this document should have been "Meats that Pose a Risk for Those Who Fail to Properly Cook and Clean."

The strength of the CSPI report is that it reminds us that raw meat has the potential to carry pathogenic bacteria, Bucknavage said. "But the sound bite heard over and over in the media was that chicken and hamburger are high-risk meats. Well, these meats are only risky if they are not properly handled and prepared.

"While the meat and poultry industry works to reduce the levels of pathogenic microorganisms on raw meat products, those items still have the potential to carry pathogenic micro-organisms.  But the risk is for people who mishandle or improperly prepare them."

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