The USDA is asking consumers to not eat so called “tiger meat” this holiday season. This unusual dish, which is served in the Midwestern states with German heritage, is made of raw ground beef mixed with raw eggs and seasonings. It is also called “cannibal sandwich” or “steak tartare.”
In 2013, an E. coli outbreak linked to tiger meat was reported in Wisconsin. Three people were sickened in that outbreak. A recall of ground beef from Glenn’s Market and Catering in Watertown, Wisconsin was tied to that outbreak.
All ground meats should be cooked to at least 160°F as tested with a food thermometer. Eating raw ground beef, pork, seafood, or poultry is never safe. Bacteria is often present on the cuts of meat used to make these products. When the meat is ground, the bacteria are spread throughout. Then, when these products are served raw or rare, bacteria survive and can make someone seriously ill.
This risk is even greater for people with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and anyone with a chronic illness. E. coli infections can become a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney failure and death. While traditions and traditional recipes are an important part of the holiday season, there’s no point in putting friends and family at risk.
It’s important to remember that grinding your own meats does not guarantee safety. Bacteria are present in beef, pork, and chicken and there is no way to tell whether these meats contain pathogenic bacteria. Organic meats are just as likely to be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria as regularly produced meats.
And remember that when cooking ground meats and all meats, color is not a reliable indicator of doneness. Meats that are pink can be fully cooked, and meats that look brown can be undercooked. Always test all meats with a reliable food thermometer, every time you cook.