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Published On: Sun, Dec 8th, 2013

Retrospective: ‘Cannibal sandwiches’ linked to E. coli cases in Wisconsin last year

A traditional winter holiday specialty in certain regions of the upper Midwest has been linked to cases of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Wisconsin late 2012, early 2013, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) released Friday.

Ground beef/USDA

Ground beef/USDA

According to the authors, in January 2013, Wisconsin health officials were notified of  two patients with Escherichia coli O157:H7 clinical isolates that had indistinguishable, but commonly identified, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns.

After interviews with the patients, it was reveled they had partaken in the holiday finger food known as “cannibal sandwiches”.

A cannibal sandwich is by definition, raw ground beef typically served on rye bread or crackers with onions. Occasionally, a raw egg will be mixed with the meat.

This prompted health officials to investigate further ” to determine the magnitude of the outbreak, prevent additional infections, and better understand raw ground beef consumption.”

What they found was 17 patients (four with confirmed E. coli and 13 with probable cases) who ate the sandwiches at several gatherings late last year.

Specifically, fourteen patients reported eating raw ground beef served as tiger meat or cannibal sandwiches during the holiday, and three had exposure to raw ground beef from cross-contamination.

The market who sold raw ground beef for the 2012 winter holiday season,later recalled 2,532 pounds (1,148 kg) of raw ground beef on January 15, 2013.

The CDC and Wisconsin Department of Health officially discouraged the tradition in the publication.

In addition, retailers in this region should be encouraged to directly discourage their customers from consuming raw ground beef. To prevent illness, ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C), as measured with a food thermometer, before consumption.

Cannibal sandwiches are tied to outbreaks in 1972 and 1994.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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