July 30, 2021

Wisconsin Warns Consumers To Not Make Cannibal Sandwiches

Every year during the holidays food safety experts warn consumers to avoid one type of traditional treat or another. Today, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services told consumers not to make or eat cannibal sandwiches. Cannibal sandwiches, also known as tiger meat or steak tartare, are made of raw ground beef, which is a food safety hazard. The Department also warned consumers about this item on its Facebook page.

Wisconsin Warms Consumers To Not Make Cannibal Sandwiches

Eating raw ground beef may expose you to pathogenic E. coli O157:H7, a dangerous pathogen that can cause serious illness, kidney failure, and even death. Raw ground beef can also be contaminated with Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. It doesn’t matter where you buy the ground beef, or how fresh it is; it can still be contaminated with pathogens.

Cows carry pathogenic E. coli bacteria in their intestines. They do not get sick or show any sign of illness. When the cow is slaughtered, the bacteria in the intestines can contaminate the meat. And then when that meat is ground, the pathogens are distributed all through it.

The only way to make ground beef safe to eat is to cook is thoroughly to 165°F as measured with a meat thermometer. You can’t tell if ground beef is safe to eat by color, taste, or appearance.

Since 1986, there have been eight outbreaks in Wisconsin linked to eating a raw ground beef dish. In 1994, a Salmonella outbreak associated with raw ground beef sickened at least 150 people during that holiday season.

You should also handle raw ground beef carefully, because of the risk of cross-contamination. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching raw ground beef or any raw meat. Clean utensils and platters with soap and water too. And use separate cutting boards for raw meat and other foods that are eaten without cooking, such as fresh produce.

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