Food & Beverage

Your ground beef contains…what?!

Ground beef is portioned onto trays in the meat department of a supermarket in Princeton, Illinois.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

As the burger craze continues, one group is warning fans about the dangers of its main ingredient: ground beef. (Tweet This).

A recent report by the nonprofit Consumer Reports claims solid evidence "that ground beef can make you seriously sick, particularly when it's cooked at rare or medium-rare temperatures under 160° F."

Specifically, ground beef is riskier when it comes to containing bacteria that can cause food poisoning. E. coli O157, a bacteria that causes abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting, can be picked up in contaminated and undercooked food, whether at a restaurant or at home, the report said.

"Up to 28 percent of Americans eat ground beef that's raw or undercooked," Hannah Gould, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the magazine.

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Consumer Reports offered this statistic: "Between 2003 and 2012, there were almost 80 outbreaks of E. coli O157 due to tainted beef, sickening 1,144 people, putting 316 in the hospital, and killing five."

So what to do if you don't want to skip your burger fix?

Consumer Reports suggest buying sustainably raised beef because it contains less antibiotics. But the most important thing to do: Cook your meat well, preferably to at least medium.

In response to the report, the North American Meat Institute said the magazine's report "confirms that pathogenic bacteria is rarely found in meat. The bacteria identified in the Consumer Reports testing are types that rarely cause foodborne illness. Bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus, and generic E. coli are commonly found in the environment and are not considered pathogenic bacteria."

Read the full coverage at Consumer Reports Online.

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