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The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE November 21, 2005

How to Ensure a Safe Thanksgiving

Avoid Foodborne Illnesses and Holiday Weight-Gain With Delicious Vegetarian Recipes

WASHINGTON—Every year, that eagerly awaited Thanksgiving dinner leaves many Americans lethargic and several pounds heavier. And a surprising number catch a foodborne illness from eating the turkey itself.

This Thanksgiving, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture is reminding people not to wash or rinse their turkey because doing so can spread potentially deadly bacteria—including salmonella and campylobacter—doctors with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) are encouraging people to opt for meatless holiday fare to avoid the risk of foodborne illness, as well as the lethargy and weight-gain that often accompany a high-fat diet. 

Rinsing a turkey can spread pathogens presumed to be present on the bird to the kitchen sink, counter surfaces, or kitchen utensils. But cooking an unwashed turkey is no guarantee that dangerous bacteria will be destroyed. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 76 million people in the United States contract illnesses from foodborne pathogens each year. Five thousand of these people die. Symptoms of food poisoning can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and sometimes fever, and may occur within 30 minutes of consuming contaminated food.

“Foodborne illness is a serious problem caused mainly by consuming tainted beef, chicken, eggs, and other animal products,” says PCRM nutritionist Tim Radak, DrPH, R.D. “So give thanks this year by choosing vegetarian foods, which are not only safer, but can help prevent disease and promote overall health.”

Scientific studies show that vegetarians are slimmer than meat-eaters and have less risk of heart disease, some cancers, and diabetes. Click here for delicious low-fat, fiber-rich, and cholesterol-free Thanksgiving recipes.

To request a free Vegetarian Starter Kit, which offers a three-step plan for moving to a healthier diet and is packed with recipes, nutrition information, and cooking tips, consumers should contact PCRM at 202-686-2210, ext. 306, or

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Patrick Sullivan

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