ground meat

What to Know about Ground-Meat Safety

Meat grinding isn’t something most of us think about in considering food safety. But the federal Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) says each year roughly 48 million people get sick from food. And grinding conditions are a big part of that.

As a result, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now requiring retailers and federal facilities to t keep a detailed log of meat grinding. And earlier this year, regulations went into effect requiring labeling on tenderized meat.

Why? According to a news release from the Mayo Clinic, the USDA’s Food and Safety Inspections service says this kind of record-keeping may help consumers avoid being infected with E. coli and salmonella, by making it easier to track down contaminated meat during outbreaks.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for ground beef to become contaminated.

In the release, Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist Dr. Pritish Tosh says, “When you think about ground beef, you are taking a piece of highly contaminated meat on the outside and when you grind it, suddenly the contaminated outside becomes inside, as well.”

Because ground beef does have bacteria throughout it, he says, hamburger should be be cooked until well-done or 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

The new USDA regulations, Mayo says, include documentation of:

The establishment numbers of the businesses supplying the beef for each lot of raw ground beef product.

All supplier lot numbers and production dates.

The names of the supplied materials, including beef components and any materials carried over from one production lot to the next.

The date and time each lot of ground beef was produced.

The date and time when grinding equipment and other related food-contact surfaces are cleaned and sanitized.

The best way to protect yourself, Mayo says, is to follow safe cooking rules.

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