|Food Safety and Inspection
United States Department of Agriculture
Washington, D.C. 20250-3700
News Release - FSIS ALERT
Congressional and Public Affairs
(202) 720-9113; FAX: (202) 690-0460
WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2003 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is issuing a public health alert to remind consumers of the importance of following food safety guidelines when handling and preparing raw ground beef. Consumers are reminded not to eat raw or undercooked ground beef.
FSIS was recently informed by Wisconsin’s Department of Public Health and Family Services of an outbreak of Salmonella Newport in October. Consumption or handling of raw or undercooked ground beef is the suspected vehicle.
Food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. Salmonella infections can be life-threatening, especially for infants, the frail or elderly and persons with chronic disease, with HIV infection, or undergoing chemotherapy. The most common manifestations of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within eight to 72 hours of consumption. Additional symptoms may be chills, headache, nausea and vomiting that can last up to seven days. Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a physician.
In an effort to reduce incidences of foodborne illness, USDA works to educate consumers on the importance of following food safety guidelines. As a liaison to the Partnership for Food Safety Education, USDA is involved in the Fight BAC!® campaign. The goal of this campaign is to educate consumers on the following four easy steps that they can take to decrease the risk of foodborne illness:
Because color is not a reliable indication that meat and poultry products are thoroughly cooked, a food thermometer is the only way to tell if food has reached a high enough temperature to destroy bacteria. USDA recommends using a food thermometer to ensure that hamburgers made of ground beef are cooked to an internal temperature of 160 °F; ground poultry to 165 °F. Roasts, steaks, and chops of beef, veal, or lamb should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 °F for medium rare and 160 °F for medium. Fresh pork should reach 160 °F. Whole poultry should reach 180 °F, as measured in the thigh.
Consumers with food safety questions can phone the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHOTLINE. The hotline is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time), Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.
NOTE: Access news releases and other information at the FSIS Web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov
|PREPARING GROUND BEEF FOR SAFE CONSUMPTION
USDA Meat and
Consumers preparing ground beef products should heed the following advice.
Consumers should only eat ground beef patties that have been cooked to a safe temperature of 160 ºF. When a ground beef patty is cooked to 160 ºF throughout, it can be safe and juicy, regardless of color.
The only way to be sure a ground beef patty is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use an accurate digital instant-read thermometer.
Color is not a reliable indicator that ground beef patties have been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria.
Eating a pink or red ground beef patty without first verifying that the safe temperature of 160 ºF has been reached is a significant risk factor for foodborne illness.
Thermometer use to ensure proper cooking temperature is especially important for those who cook or serve ground beef patties to people most at risk for foodborne illness because certain pathogens can lead to serious illness or even death. Those most at risk include young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.
For Further Information, Contact:
FSIS Congressional and Public Affairs Staff
Phone: (202) 720-9113
Fax: (202) 690-0460
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