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Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

Latest Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Ground Beef

By February 14, 2013

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Few of us let our kids eat undercooked ground beef because we are worried about bacteria in food, such as the Salmonella that has likely caused an outbreak that has gotten at least 18 people sick in five states.

The CDC reports that this outbreak is likely linked to now recalled ground beef that was produced by Jouni Meats, Inc. and Gab Halal Foods, two stores in Michigan. Counsumers could have bought the recalled meat from the stores or eaten it at a nearby restaurant in Macomb County. At least 7 people got sick at this restaurant after eating kibbeh, which is often made with raw ground beef or lamb.

This recall is a good reminder about not eating raw meat, but what about undercooked ground beef? How do you actually know if your child's hamburger is safe to eat? Many of us simply cook or order hamburgers that are well-done, or cooked until they are no longer pink, but is that enough?

Unfortunately, the United States Department of Agriculture state that food color is not a reliable indicator of doneness and that "some ground beef may appear to have lost all pink color before it is fully cooked," and that "some lean ground beef may remain pink at temperatures well above the 160F final cooking temperature recommended for consumers."

So use a food thermometer to make sure that you have cooked your child's hamburgers and steaks to an internal temperature of 160F to kill E. coli, Salmonella, and other bacteria that can cause food poisoning. And when eating out, you should ask if ground beef patties have been cooked to at least 155 F for 15 seconds (FDA rules).

Related:
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USDA - Ground Beef and Food Safety
Salmonella Outbreaks
Salmonella and Food Poisoning
Food Safety by the Numbers

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