Hamburger disease is caused by a specific type of bacteria called E.coli 0157:H7 which live in the intestines of cattle, and can be transferred to the outer surface of meat when an animal is butchered.
You can be infected with E.coli 0157:H7 by directly handling raw ground beef without taking precautions, and by eating ground beef that is undercooked. Eating fermented (culture added) meats, unpasteurized milk, unpasteurized apple cider, unchlorinated water, and contaminated vegetables may cause you get hamburger disease.
Once being infected with E. coli 0157:H7, you may experience symptoms such as flu, severe stomach cramps, vomiting, fever, and watery or bloody diarrhea. Some may experience life-threatening symptoms, including kidney failure, seizures, and stroke.
To minimize your risk of hamburger disease, you can follow these following tips.
- Bacteria grow quickly at room temperature, so when you are running errands, make grocery shopping your last stop.
- Buy perishable foods last, and refrigerate or freeze them as soon as you get home.
- Never defrost food at room temperature; thaw food in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave if you are going to be cooking it immediately.
- Marinate food in the refrigerator.
- Set your refrigerator to 4ºC (40ºF) and your freezer to -18ºC (0ºF).
- Always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before handling food, and after handling raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.
- Sanitize countertops, cutting boards and utensils with a mild bleach and water solution before and after preparing food.
- Use paper towels to wipe kitchen surfaces, or change dishcloths daily to avoid the risk of cross-contamination and the spread of bacteria.
- Avoid using sponges, as they are harder to keep bacteria-free.
- Separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods in your grocery cart.
- Store these raw foods in sealed containers or plastic bags on bottom shelves in your refrigerator to keep their juices from dripping onto other foods.
- Use one cutting board for produce, and a separate one for raw meat, poultry and seafood.
- Cook hamburger and other ground meats thoroughly in order to ensure bacteria are killed. Use a digital instant read food thermometer to ensure thorough cooking to an internal temperature of 71ºC (160ºF).
- Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that previously held raw food.
- Never use left-over marinade for basting or as a sauce, unless you boil it first to kill bacteria.