Food preparation staff and anyone in the food service industry know the importance of properly cooking meat in order to guard against food poisoning and minced meat in particular.
Minced meat is one of the highest risk foods because it commonly contributes to foodborne illnesses in human beings if it is undercooked.
The main type of bacteria that are found in this type of meat, which makes people sick when ingested is E.Coli. Some strains of E.Coli can be particularly harmful and lead to severe sickness.
While many may underestimate the need for proper food handling and food safety, eating contaminated, raw and undercooked meat can be dangerous and potentially fatal. Read a post from Foodsafetynew.com which highlights an example of minced meat being contaminated by E.Coli:
Butcher’s Choice Garlic Peppercorn Beef Burgers are being voluntarily recalled by Loblaw Companies Ltd. of Brampton, Ontario for possible contamination of E. coli O157:H7.
The affected product is frozen in 1.13 kg packages bearing the UPC 0-60383-89363-7, with a best-before date of March 2013.
The product was distributed nationally across Canada.
According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the recall has resulted from an ongoing investigation into a number of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in Canada. The recall may be expanded as additional products undergo testing.
The leading cause of E.Coli bacteria in food is minced meat and for this reason ground beef/minced meat and its products such as burgers and meatballs should never be served raw or undercooked.
In addition to making a person extremely ill, some strains ofE.Coli bacteria can make you sick and perhaps even lead to complications that cause death. For example a deadly strain of E.Coli O157:H7 has lethal toxins which attack the intestines and can cause haemorrhagic colitis.
Of course the best method of fighting E.coli in meat is to properly cook the meat but sometimes when out at restaurant, meat may be undercooked and you may contract a foodborne illness. Warning signs to look out for related to this type of E.Coli poisoning are fevers, abdominal cramping, watery or bloody diarrhoea and vomiting.
But why is minced meat vulnerable to contamination?
The reason minced meat carries bacteria more than other meat products is because E. coli naturally present in the animal’s intestines can infect the parts of the cow used to produce the minced or ground beef. Therefore thoroughly cooking food, especially minced meat is crucial. Even a small amount of undercooked meat can make a person seriously ill.
Advice for Consumers
- Once you have bought minced meat, particular beef, keep it refrigerated until ready to cook.
- Remember that it can only be kept for up to 2 days.
- If you are going to keep it longer than 2 days it must be stored in a freezer.
- Cook the meat evenly andthoroughly before eating it
- Ensure tools and utensils used for preparation are not exposed to raw meat without being sanitized to prevent cross contamination.