There's pressure on the USDA to monitor meat for more strains of E. coli than it currently does, lest there be a repeat of the Jack in the Box burger outbreak of 1993. But anyone who actually pays attention to what foods have been recalled for poisoning knows that meat contributes very little, and that this is just more animal-phobic balderdash from the government.
For the most recent year of available data, here is the CDC's press release about food poisoning across different types of food. Ignore the number of outbreaks, since that confuses the obvious difference between an "outbreak" of 3 people and an outbreak of 3,000 people; focus on the number of cases instead. Here is a one-page PDF with all the numbers so you can see how all 17 categories of food contributed.
The leading contributor is poultry, in particular baked poultry that was clearly not cooked long enough or at high enough temperature to kill bacteria. So much for red meat being the main killer, and so much for the superiority of baking to frying. When you bake chicken or turkey, you typically don't carve it up beforehand, so the surface area affected by the heat source is pretty small compared to when you cut up the chicken into pieces before throwing them in some oil in a skillet. And the primary infection that comes from undercooked poultry is C. perfringens, whose symptoms don't sound so bad as far as food poisoning goes.
Just about as common, though, were cases caused by leafy green vegetables and fruits/nuts -- and here we're talking E. coli and Salmonella, respectively. Combining the prevalence and severity of symptoms, plant foods were far more harmful to Americans than poultry was, let alone even more harmless sources like beef, dairy, and eggs. More recently, this month there was a major recall of romaine lettuce products containing E. coli, and the homepage at FoodSafety.gov currently displays a picture warning about Salmonella in alfalfa sprouts.
Were the spinach, peanuts, lettuce, and sprouts responsible for these outbreaks heated long enough and at high enough temperature to kill off bacteria? Of course not -- then they would no longer count as "fresh," the euphemism for "raw" in the context of non-animal vs. animal products. Eating deep-fried alfalfa sprouts would make you look like a weirdo, not the eco-friendly saint that you want to be.
As the numbers show, food poisoning is somewhat rare, with fewer than 1 in 10,000 people affected, although unrecognized cases would drive that estimate up. But if we do consider that rate and the average severity of symptoms to be bad enough that "something must be done," we should remember who the real culprits are. Contrary to vegetarian propaganda, plant foods -- especially those "fresh" kinds we're supposed to eat more of -- are the worst offenders.