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Tips for Cooking Your Ground Beef Safely

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Americans love their ground beef — flame broiled on the grill or fried up in a pan. No matter how it's cooked, carnivores can't get enough. But is all that meat truly safe to eat?

Steve Romes, 49, of Gilbert, Arizona, had no idea what was making him deathly ill, until his wife rushed him to the hospital.

"It was the worst feeling I ever had in my life," Romes told Inside Edition.

After running tests over and over again, doctors determined Steve had salmonella poisoning. Turned out the ground beef he purchased at his local grocery store was the culprit.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I could purchase ground beef and get as sick as I did," Romes said.

Over the past few years, there have been an alarming number of recalls of contaminated meat. So Inside Edition looked into what may be lurking in the beef shoppers buy at supermarkets. 

Inside Edition went shopping at 12 supermarkets in New York and purchased 100 samples of beef ground in-house for prepackaged burgers. We sent it off to IEH Labs in Seattle to test the meat for three types of bacteria that can make people sick: E. coli, listeria and salmonella.

The results came back with some good news. The lab didn't find any harmful E. coli in any of the samples. 

However, five samples contained listeria and one contained salmonella.

"So if consumers took this ground beef that had contaminated from your studies and did not cook it properly, they could get sick," said food safety expert Randy Wobolo.

Inside Edition reached out to the USDA about it's findings.

A spokesperson said, "Bacteria can be present in raw meat and poultry – no raw meat or poultry is sterile.Consumers can protect themselves by always cooking their ground beef thoroughly to a safe internal temperature of 160 degrees, as measured using a food thermometer. Additionally, it is essential that people wash their hands after handling raw meat and poultry, separate raw meat and poultry from other foods, clean and sanitize surfaces and utensils to avoid cross contamination, and then properly chill the cooked product."

So what can you do to prevent yourself or your family from getting sick? Chef Marc Bauer of the International Culinary Center has some tips.

First, refrigerate the beef soon after purchasing it to slow any bacteria growth.

Also, thoroughly wash your hands and any utensils immediately after handling the raw beef. This will prevent you from contaminating other food items.

Finally, use a thermometer to ensure the beef reaches 160 degrees when cooked. That should kill dangerous bacteria.

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