Food Safety Magazine

News | December 6, 2013

CDC: Raw Ground Beef in Seasonal Delicacy Caused 2012 Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7

By Staff

CDC: Raw Ground Beef in Seasonal Delicacy Caused 2012 Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7

A Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) released today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) details how an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in Watertown, WI, during the 2012 winter holiday season was related to consumption of raw ground beef in a delicacy known as "tiger meat" or "cannibal sandwiches." The report explained that the dish, which typically consists of raw ground beef served on rye bread or crackers with onions, is a traditional winter holiday specialty in certain regions of the upper Midwest.

The report said that all 17 cases of illness (four confirmed, 13 probable) in last year's outbreak were traced back to raw ground beef purchased from a single meat market. However, it also noted that the tradition of eating raw ground beef during the holiday season has endured for many years in Wisconsin and "was associated with large (more than 50 cases) outbreaks of foodborne illness reported to WDPH [the Wisconsin Department of Public Health] during 1972, 1978, and 1994."

The meat market, which voluntarily recalled 2,532 pounds of raw ground beef because of the outbreak, was not named in the MMWR report. However, the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) pointed out that a recall notice issued Jan. 15, 2013, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture identified the market as Glenn's Market and Catering of Watertown.