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Is It Safe to Eat a Hamburger? Everything You Need to Know About the Massive Ground Beef Recall

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Bad news if you like your burgers medium rare

Five million more pounds of ground beef were recalled on December 4 due to possible salmonella contamination, but that doesn’t mean you can’t order that hamburger. While raw non-intact beef items including ground beef may not be safe to eat, you can still enjoy your meatloaf and pasta Bolognese if your meat is cooked “well done.”

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When meat is cooked to a high enough temperature, it kills harmful bacteria. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Safety Inspection Service is urging anyone who is eating fresh or frozen ground beef in a restaurant or at home to consume it only once the meat has been cooked to a temperature of 160 degrees. 

“If you’re going to eat meat, generally, then you have to cook it thoroughly,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, advised Healthline. “One of the messages I always have when it comes to ground beef has always been to eat your hamburger, for instance, ‘well done.’ That’s because the salmonella is mixed in with the entire hamburger.”

“With a chopped meat product, you have to get rid of the bacteria that could potentially be sitting at the center. Make sure the entire surface is appropriately cooked.”

The December beef recall is an expansion of an earlier beef recall from October. In total, over 12 million pounds of beef has been recalled for possible salmonella contamination. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the contaminated beef is responsible for causing 246 people to fall ill in 25 states, including 56 hospitalizations.

The most recently recalled products were produced and packaged from July 26, 2018, to September 7, 2018, and were sold at more than 100 retailers, a list of which can be found here

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While experts are saying you can avoid contamination by eating your burger cooked well, the CDC is also urging people to wash their hands and any items that come into contact with raw ground beef with soap and water after use. Make sure to stay safe by following health officials’ recommendations and these additional tips for avoiding food poisoning.