Holiday feasts are fertile ground for foodborne illnesses. Whether it’s the fact that we prepare more food in our home kitchens or simply have more leftovers to handle, food poisoning cases usually rise in November and December. One particular holiday tradition in the Midwest has prompted the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to make a public plea about food safety.
Thousands of Wisconsinites consider raw-meat sandwiches, also known as cannibal sandwiches, a holiday tradition in their households. But consuming raw meat is never without risk, and experts are sounding the alarm about eating a food that could cause serious digestive issues. (Related: The One Vitamin Doctors Are Urging Everyone to Take Right Now.)
“Many Wisconsin families consider them to be a holiday tradition, but eating them poses a threat for Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Campylobacter and Listeria bacteria that can make you sick,” the Health Department wrote in a Facebook post. “Remember, ground beef should ALWAYS be cooked to an internal temperature of 160° F.”
The sandwiches are often served with raw onions, which is reminiscent of steak tartare, the high-end raw meat dish that hails from France. Culinary history aside, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has offered a safer alternative for preparing cannibal sandwiches or similar raw-meat dishes, which includes cooking the protein.
“If cannibal sandwiches are a tradition in your home, try this safe alternative: Cook the ground beef with the same spices and toppings until it reaches 160°F, and serve it on top of bread or crackers,” the agency said in a blog post. “You may be surprised to find that it tastes better when cooked! Not to mention, you won’t be risking a trip to the hospital with every mouthful.”
So basically, just lay off the raw beef!
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