Posts Tagged ‘meat recall’

  1. E. coli and meat safety

    October 9, 2012 by Kevin

    With the huge beef recall from the XL Foods  federal plant in Brooks, Alberta in the news, you may be wondering about E. coli in your meat. E. coli bacteria occur naturally in the digestive systems of animals and humans without causing disease. However, strain 157 can cause severe food poisoning.

    In meat plants sometimes part of the  surface of carcasses  becomes  contaminated.  Meat inspectors are trained to make sure that all contamination is trimmed off. However, those working in large plants with high-speed production lines are not always able to do this completely.

    During the grinding process, bacteria from the surface of the carcass become mixed together with the rest of the meat. Cooking meat to 160 degrees F. kills these bacteria.  They are not killed when you serve hamburger rare. They can also  recontaminate a cooked burger before you eat it, if you touch it with dirty hands or put it back on the plate with raw burgers. Eating a roast or chops rare is less dangerous because cooking kills the bacteria on the outer surface of the meat, while the inside is not contaminated. Potentially the most dangerous meat products are those that are not cooked in the home, such as ready-to-eat sausage and luncheon meats.

    Meat products from provincial plants are not presently tested for E. coli, but this could change when the new provincial meat inspection system comes into place in 2014.  Our water is tested monthly for E. coli.

    You can protect yourself from E. coli infection by avoiding ready-to-eat meat products, washing your hands thoroughly after touching raw meat and before eating,  and cooking all ground meat and sausage to 160 degrees F.

    One of our CFIA meat inspectors was a production line worker  from 1999 to 2002 at Lakeside, the Alberta plant that is the subject of the current beef recall. You can read her account of her experience there in her book, My Resilience. See here for more info..