It’s a holiday tradition that’s a bad idea – consuming raw ground beef is a tradition that people working in the field of public health would like to see end. “We realize it’s a tradition in a lot of families, but the bottom line is that nobody wants to be sick on Christmas or the holidays,” said Dr. Abbey Canon, an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the Centers for Disease Control, assigned to the Wisconsin Department of Public Health.
Cannon said there are a variety of potential illnesses that can befall people who partake in “tiger meat,” as it’s commonly known. “Raw ground beef can contain different bacteria, different parasites,” she said, noting that the elderly and pregnant women can be especially at risk.
Cannon said the only right way to consume ground beef is cooked – to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Raw ground beef was linked to an outbreak of food borne illness in Wisconsin last year, caused by E coli bacteria. “Raw ground beef, regardless of the source, can cause illness, and we just really encourage people to think twice before serving that this year.”