How I buy meat – Powell hazardous waste version

A blogger named Jenny called me last week and asked me how I buy meat.

So this is what I told her as documented in her blog, Dinner A Love Story.

My first guest is Doug Powell, associate professor, food safety, Dept. Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology, Kansas State University and the father of five girls. His entertainingly combative regularly takes Whole Foods and (no!!!) Michael Pollan to task.

So Doug Powell, how do you buy meat?

“I go to the biggest supermarket I can find — Dillons, Walmart, Krogers. I’ll buy a whole chicken at Dillons for some ridiculously low price, like 99 cents a pound. Because I know they have quality control measures in place to reduce microbial loads before they get in the store. I would never shop at any of those places like Whole Foods. What they are peddling is complete nonsense from a safety point a view. Whole Foods is so concerned about being natural and whatever else that they don’t pay attention to the basics like cross-contamination. They’re sloppy about that.

“It’s not about lovingly raising an animal which I’m sure lots of farmers do. It’s about testing. In separate USA Today stories last year, both Costco and McDonalds were highlighted for their rigorous safety standards. I’m not talking quality here, I’m talking safety. Given the number of things they serve, those places can’t afford to screw up.

“When I buy ground beef, I treat it like hazardous waste, and make burgers mixed with about 20 per cent ground turkey. A butcher grinding meat in front of me means nothing from a safety perspective. If there’s poop on the outside, it’s now on the inside, which is why I always — always — use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer to make sure any food is properly cooked. There’s just too many people out there getting sick.”

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time