Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Foodborne Illness: Did You Know?

Although most recover completely from it, some people who get food poisoning (foodborne illness) may develop long-term health problems as a result. Illnesses such as chronic arthritis, and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which leads to kidney failure, affect not only those afflicted, but also society and the economy at large. Health Canada estimates that the costs associated with these illnesses exceeds $1 billion per year.
One way to avoid foodborne disease is to exercise care when grilling those hamburger patties on the barbecue this summer. Cook to temperature not to colour. According to recent studies, visual clues such as clear running juice or brown coloured centres are not always reliable. Health Canada recommends cooking ground beef to 71°C (160°F), and testing with a food thermometer. When patties are almost done, remove from heat and insert an instant-read food thermometer sideways into the centre of the thickest burger. If the temperature registers at least 71°C (160°F), the burger is done, if not, continue cooking until a minimum temperature of 71°C (160°F) is reached. At this temperature E. coli (the bacteria that may be present in ground beef) is killed and the patties are considered safe to eat. For more information on food safety, visit the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education Web site at