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Have you seen the news stories that many health departments across the nation are enacting ordinances that permit restaurants to prepare hamburgers only medium well and well done and wondered why?
In recent years there have been outbreaks of foodborne disease caused by bacterium, Escherichia coli 0157:H7. While the E. coli bacterium normally lives in the intestines of human and animals without causing disease, it can be a health concern if ingested. Also, a new and more dangerous strain of the bacterium has emerged. This new strain is E. coli 0157:H7, and it has caused serious illness and deaths. E. coli 0157:H7 infections have been linked to eating undercooked ground beef and drinking unpasteurized milk. Therefore in the interest of public health, some health departments have mandated that all ground beef served in public establishments be thoroughly cooked to prevent infection with E. coli 0157:H7. Additionally, the federal government's Centers for Disease Control has stated that no one should drink unpasteurized milk.
Contaminated food or drink can be the cause of more than 250 diseases. The most common foodborne diseases are infections caused by bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter or by the Norwalk family of viruses. These foodborne pathogens (and others) are most often found in raw or undercooked foods of animal origin such as meat, milk, eggs, cheese, fish, or shellfish.
The most important step in preventing foodborne disease is thorough cooking. It is also important to ensure that raw or undercooked meats, eggs, and dairy products do not contaminate other foods or utensils in the food preparation area. Always wash one's hands, cutting board, counter top, and utensils with soap and water after handling raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs. Never allow persons who are sick with diarrhea or vomiting to prepare food for others.
By the way, "cooked thoroughly" means NO pink, and 160 to 170 F throughout the meat!