Monday, April 29, 2019

Why do we cook raw ground beef to 155 degrees F?



On April 24, 2019, 113,424 pounds of raw ground beef were recalled after testing positive for Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O1O3 (E. coli O1O3, for short).  CDC data shows 10 states have a combined total of 156 reported cases with 20 of those resulting in hospitalizations. Cases after March 26, 2019, have not been added to this count, due to the amount of time the average individual takes to report an illness after becoming ill. The individuals reported consuming ground beef in homes and in restaurants.  The recall is classified as a Class I recall, meaning all the suspected items need to be removed from stores and homes, due to the risk of death and other serious health risks.

According to Food Safety News, the raw ground beef items were produced on March 26, March 29, April 2, April 5, April 10, and April 12, 2019. The following products are subject to recall: Two 24-lb. vacuum-packed packages in cardboard boxes containing raw “GROUND BEEF PUCK” with “Use Thru” dates of 4/14/19, 4/17/19, 4/20/19, 4/23/19, 4/28/19, and 4/30/19. The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 51308” inside the USDA mark of inspection on the boxes. These items were shipped to distributors in Ft. Orange, Fla. and Norcross, Ga. for further distribution to restaurants.
Returning recalled meat to the grocery store or throwing it away is the best way to prevent illness once a recall has taken place. This recall should not stop individuals from consuming properly cooked meat in the future or meat not included in the recall. Remember, food safety guidelines for everyday cooking are meant to cook and handle food as if it is already contaminated with bacteria. Those preventative measures can eliminate the risk of illness if followed properly.


For example, cooking raw, ground meat to at least 155 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds can kill bacteria, such as E. coli, that is potentially in the meat. Cooking raw, ground meat to a temperature less than 155 degrees Fahrenheit is considered undercooking and carries the risk of causing illness for those who consume that food. While refrigerating and freezing raw meat is important for safety and quality, it’s crucial to note that keeping food at safe refrigeration temperatures of 41 degrees Fahrenheit or less, does not kill bacteria, it only slows bacterial growth. That is why it is critical to properly cook foods to reduce harmful bacteria to levels that will not make individuals sick.

In the wake of a large recall, keep in mind all the measures that keep our food safe every day. Don’t forget to prevent spreading bacteria from raw meat by storing raw meat below already cooked foods. Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces after raw meat is handled with soapy water and add in the extra sanitizing step when necessary. Most of all, remember to enjoy your properly cooked and handled food! Illnesses and recalls can be scary, but anyone can fight bacteria with a bit of food safety education that will keep their family safe for every meal. 
If you have further questions about recalls, proper food cook temperatures, or other food safety questions please check out the topics at the top of the webpage or call us at 719-583-4307.

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