MSNBC’s Linda Karoll reported this afternoon on a 2010 outbreak of E-Coli from tainted venison in Minnesota. She writes
A Minnesota high school science project that involved hunting and butchering deer — including one road-kill capture — and turning the meat into venison kabobs backfired when 29 students were sickened with a rare kind of E. coli food poisoning, investigators say.
Epidemiologists identified the source of the illness as E. coli O103:H2, which is part of a larger category of non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bugs, known as STECs. This is not the strain commonly associated with food poisoning from ground beef (E. coli O157:H7). Karoll reports scientists also turned up another E. coli strain, E. coli O145:NM that didn’t produce Shiga toxins.
The investigation found three mistakes when the students prepared the meat.
- When using skewers to make kabobs, the skewers dragged contaminants from the meat’s surface down to the center of the kabobs, which hadn’t been cooked to a high enough temperature to kill the bacteria (cooked only medium rare);
- The meat was not cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit; and
- The students didn’t wash their hands, which lead to cross contamination.
All three lessons are important to remember when preparing any meat. It’s unusal to become sick when eating steaks of muscle meat because contamination is usually on the surface. In this case the combination of skewering the meat and failing to cook it to the proper temperature provided the right mix for an outbreak.
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