January 14, 2021

Avoid Making and Serving These Potentially Dangerous Holiday Foods

Every year people are sickened by certain types of foods. Avoid making and serving these potentially dangerous holiday foods this season. Some are inherently dangerous, and others are easily contaminated with dangerous bacteria. The potentially harmful foods include cannibal sandwiches, raw cookie dough, eggnog, unpasteurized cider, and raw oysters.

Avoid Making and Serving These Potentially Dangerous Holiday Foods

Cannibal sandwiches are sandwiches made with raw ground beef. They are a specialty in some areas of the Midwest United States. In 2013, an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Wisconsin was associated with the seasonal consumption of these sandwiches. Raw ground beef is inherently risky, because cows carry pathogenic STEC bacteria in their guts. When the cows are slaughtered, the bacteria are released and can contaminate the beef. When this beef is ground, the pathogens are mixed all through it. The only way to destroy E coli bacteria is to cook it to 160°F.

Raw cookie dough has been an issue for years. The problematic ingredients are raw eggs and raw flour. In June 2009, and E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to prepackaged uncooked cookie dough sickened at least 72 people. And in the past few years there have been several raw flour E. coli outbreaks that have sickened dozens of people. Eggs are an issue too, since they are often contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. You can use pasteurized eggs and heat treated flour to make snacking on cookie dough safe.

When eggnog is made with raw eggs, it is a food poisoning risk. Raw eggs can carry Salmonella bacteria; in fact, the hen’s ovaries are often contaminated with this pathogen. You can make homemade eggnog that is safe by following instructions from the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

Unpasteurized cider and other juices are also inherently risky. There have been E. coli and cryptosporidium outbreaks linked to raw apple cider in recent years. Apples can be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria in the orchard or during transport and processing. Only buy cider and juices that have been pasteurized.

Finally, raw oysters are an inherent risk. Let year, a shigella, vibrio, and E. coli outbreak linked to raw oysters sickened at least 16 people. In addition, these shellfish are often contaminated with norovirus and Salmonella bacteria. Always cook oysters before eating.

So avoid these foods and have a safe and happy holiday season.

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