A deadly E.coli outbreak that has afflicted Germany and other parts of Eastern Europe has sickened nearly 2,000 people to date. According to the New York Times, the deadly outbreak has been traced to tainted domestic sprouts and forced the closure of several farms in the Northern part of the country.
While this news might send some people running to empty their produce bins and avoid green vegetables, some public health experts are skeptical of these claims.
“We would want either epidemiological evidence or confirmed laboratory evidence,” Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of food-borne diseases for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, told the New York Times.
North Carolina may be a red state politically, but many meat eaters are blue in the face crying foul over a state ban on rare burgers in restaurants. The state now requires restaurants to cook their hamburgers to a temperature of 155 degrees, which health officials say is enough to kill unhealthy bacteria such as E. coli.
While North Carolina’s citizens are still allowed to eat their hamburgers anyway they wish at home, restaurants can’t go any lower than medium on the cooking chart. Word has it that this legislation has created somewhat of an underground red meat-eating movement, a bit like the speakeasies of Prohibition days, I suppose.
North Carolina restaurants can still serve steaks rare to customers since they don’t pose the same threat as ground meat. If contaminants exist on a piece of steak they are usually on the outside and killed during the cooking process. However, when beef is ground up the bacteria is mixed inside.
More than 3,000 pounds of ground beef patties are being recalled by a California company for potential E. coli contamination, and other ground beef products may also be affected. The U.S. Department of Agriculture made the announcement this weekend after the American Food Service of Pico Rivera recalled the products.
The recalled beef was produced on January 31, and carries the establishment number “EST 1913” inside the USDA inspection mark. The beef was sent to restaurants in the southern region of California. The USDA fears packages of the contaminated beef are still in the freezers of many restaurants.
I’m terrified of food borne illnesses and rightly so. E. coli, salmonella and hepatitis are only a few of the diseases that can be contracted from food that is improperly prepared. I’ve compiled the following tips for safe food handling from the CDC, USDA and FDA websites.
When you prepare:
According to the Associated Press “the Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that 12 people had been hospitalized and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was looking at 10 other cases probably linked to the outbreak. Freshway Foods of Sidney, Ohio, said it was recalling romaine lettuce sold under the Freshway and Imperial Sysco brands.”
The FDA is currently investigating the E. Coli outbreak, which seems to be focused on lettuce grown in Arizona as a possible source. According to some sources, the lettuce causing the outbreak was not packaged in bags to be sold directly to consumers, but instead is lettuce used at supermarket and restaurant salad bars.