E. Coli is Still Found in Ground Beef

Ground beef is eaten as hamburgers, spaghetti, lasagna, tacos, and the list could go on and on, but ground is still not as safe as what it should be. The E. coli O157:H7 pathogens are still reported to be found in ground beef. Although the Food and Safety and Inspection Service makes sure ground beef products are wholesome, unadulterated, and properly marked, labeled and packaged under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, not all meat is checked thoroughly.

The strain O157:H7 is a deadly E. coli strain found to be in tainted ground beef where cow feces have gotten on the meat and not been carefully cleaned and inspected. E coli can cause serious problems with the lower intestine. The O157:H7 is a food borne illness, which leads the bloody diarrhea and kidney failure.

The New York Times reported a Minnesota outbreak with the E. coli O157:H7 strand tied to the meat industry Cargill the country’s largest private company with revenues reaching $116.6 last year. According to the New York Times, Cargill was found by the U.S.D.A officials to have serious problems violating its own safety procedures in the handling of ground beef; the department even threatened to withhold the seal of approval which declares “U.S. Inspected and Passed by the Department of Agriculture.”

The Minnesota Health Department tied 11 cases to the Cargill outbreak, and federal health officials estimated the outbreak sickened 940 people this found by the NY Times. Cargill receives its meat ingredients from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas and Uruguay. According to the NY Times, federal health officials have no way of knowing which slaughterhouse is responsible for the tainted meat.

Ground beef is not just a mass of meat put through a grinder, it is pieces of meat taken from various parts the cow carcass and put through a grinder with other pieces from different cows from different slaughterhouses. The NY Times presented records of no federal requirement for grinders to test their ingredients for the pathogen. The U.S.D.A issued a draft guideline urging, but not ordering processors to test ingredients before grinding. In other words, more bacterial testing of ground beef needs to be done.

Since E. coli is not tested thoroughly in the meat grinding process it is up to the consumers to make sure E. coli pathogens are killed. According to the U.S.D.A web site hamburgers must be cooked above 160 degrees to be sure E. coli is killed. The web site urges consumers to use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the meat before serving. So when making burgers for the next tailgating event, make sure the burgers are cooked thoroughly through.