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You may have a beef with this news. Actually, maybe you should be careful about having a beef because there’s yet another Salmonella outbreak. This time the outbreak has been linked to ground beef. And the outbreak has already gotten at least 26 people ill in Illinois, according to a June 7 Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announcement.
This outbreak has served as grounds for an investigation by the IDPH, local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS). They haven’t been meat loafing around as they’ve been conducting tests to determine whether there are more cases and to figure out the specific source of the tainted ground beef. In the meantime, they are urging you to be extra careful when handling your meat—your ground beef, that is.
The earliest reported illness started back on April 25 with latest reported illness beginning May 18 so far. Cases have spanned Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties in Illinois. So far, officials have found a small number of cases in some other states as well.
It seems like not everyone in Cook county has been cooking their ground beef enough. Some of those affected by the outbreak indicated that they had eaten undercooked ground beef, which is general is a no-no. Ground beef ain’t sushi. You should make sure that you heat ground beef up to at least an internal temperature of 160°F. And don’t use you tongue or other body parts to test the temperature. Instead, use a food thermometer.
You don’t want a Salmonella infection. If someone were to ask you, would you rather watch an episode of the TV show The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or eat some Salmonella, choose the TV show. Typically, Salmonella in your gut can be quite a punch to the gut, causing symptoms like diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and headaches for four to seven days. The diarrhea can be bloody awful, literally, as blood can be in the loose stool. These symptoms usually emerge about six to 72 hours after eating contaminated food.
In some cases, a Salmonella infection can go beyond your intestines and even lead to life-threatening problems. This is more likely when you have a weaker immune system such as when you are under five years of age, over 65 years of age, or have a chronic medical condition. Therefore, you should be extra aware of the risk if you fall into one of these categories. Eating undercooked meat could be “high steaks” indeed.
In addition to heating your meat, follow standard food safety precautions. Wash your darn hands frequently and thoroughly when handling your meat. Don’t put your fingers or hands on your face—or anybody else’s face—until you’ve washed them. As the Covid-19 pandemic has hopefully taught everyone, washing your hands does not simply mean doing Jazz hands at the faucet. Instead, you should lather up all of your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Additionally, make sure that you thoroughly clean anything that has touched raw meat. Note that clean does not mean lick. This includes any surfaces, utensils, and other objects that may have come into contact with the raw meat.
Also, remember to keep any ground beef products refrigerated as much as you can. Don’t keep it any warm place such as under the sun, in a hot car or in your pants for too long. Bad bacteria can begin growing in meat fairly quickly.
All of these food safety measures should be in place regardless of whether a Salmonella outbreak is occurring. Not practicing such measures can leave you playing diarrhea roulette or a not so fun game of craps, so to speak.