March 23, 2018

Michigan E. coli Outbreak Warning for Memorial Day Grillers

The ongoing E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that has sickened at least 11 people and hospitalized 6 associated with undercooked hamburgers served at restaurants serves as a warning to consumers who are going to grill this Memorial Day weekend. That outbreak, linked to 1.8 million pounds of recalled ground beef sold by Wolverine Packing Company of Detroit, has sickened people in Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, and Massachusetts.

Meat on GrillMemorial Day is traditionally the start of the grilling season. The FDA has tips on how to grill safely, especially during summer holidays. You can protect your family by following some simple rules. Remember, raw meats that are in your home should be treated as if it is contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, because much of it is, according to research.

Make sure you marinate foods in the refrigerator, never on the counter or outdoors. In addition, cook marinades thoroughly if you plan to serve them as a sauce. Never partially cook meats and hold for later cooking.

Most importantly, always cook food thoroughly. Any ground meat should be cooked to a final internal temperature of 160°F, tested with a reliable food thermometer. Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness. The food should rest for 5 minutes before serving, to let juices redistribute and to let the temperature rise a bit more.

Don’t reuse platters or utensils that were in contact with raw meat. Wash them thoroughly before you place cooked items on them. Prevent cross-contamination and keep uncooked meats and eggs away from foods that will be served uncooked, such as fresh produce and salads.

Make sure that you serve hot food hot and cold food cold. All perishable foods should be discarded after they have been out of refrigeration for 2 hours; 1 hour if the ambient air temperature is about 90°F. Keep foods out of the danger zone of 40°F to 140°F, since bacteria grow and thrive at those temperatures.

And when you are eating out, never eat rare or undercooked ground meat. Tell the waiter you want your burgers cooked to 160°F, and cut into the burger before you eat it. If you see any pink, send it back to the kitchen to be properly heated. E. coli O1578:H7 infections can cause serious illness, including hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can lead to the loss of kidney function, strokes, heart attacks, and other serious conditions.

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