State health officials urge consumers to avoid raw ground beef - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

State health officials urge consumers to avoid raw ground beef

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MADISON (WKOW) -- With the holidays in full swing, health experts from the Wisconsin Departments of Health Services (DHS) and Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) are reminding consumers to avoid "cannibal sandwiches".

Eating raw or undercooked ground meat can result in food borne illnesses.  An outbreak of illness in Watertown last winter was linked to eating raw ground beef.  "Tiger meat" or "cannibal sandwiches" are dishes consisting of raw ground beef topped with salt, pepper and onions, and often served on rye bread or crackers.

Dr. Henry Anderson, State Health Officer, says "remember that no one wants to be sick during the holidays.  You also don't want to be responsible for spreading illness to family members and friends."

In 2012, the outbreak was caused by the bacteria E. coli O157:H7.  Symptoms of the E. coli infection include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea.  The infection can lead to kidney failure in some, especially the elderly, people with weakened immune systems, and children under five-years-old.

Eating raw ground beef can also lead to infections from other bacteria such as Salmonella, Listeria and Campylobacter.

Most bacteria in meat, poultry and eggs can be killed by thorough cooking.  To prevent illness, ground beef should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F.

You can follow these tips to keep your family safe during the holidays:

--  Clean –Wash hands and surfaces thoroughly and often.

--  Separate –Keep raw meat and poultry separate from cooked or ready-to-eat foods.

--  Cook –Use a food thermometer and cook foods to the appropriate temperature.

--  Chill –Refrigerate foods promptly.

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