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Making Burgers Safe

first_img“The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking ground beef to 160 degrees,” hesaid. “That allows for a margin of safety.” “It’s easy to eliminate the risk of contaminated hamburgers,” said Mike Doyle, director of theUniversity of Georgia Center for Food Safety and Quality Enhancement. “Just make sureyou cook them properly.” “I continue to tell people to cook a hamburger until it’s no longer red inside and the juices rungray or are no longer pink,” he said. “But there is evidence that color isn’t always reliable.” Checking hamburger patties with most meat thermometers is hard, if not impossible. “Thereare some new ones that cost about $10,” he said. “They’re thinner and can be inserted into apatty easier than standard meat thermometers.” Young children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are the mostsusceptible to foodborne illness. UGA studies have shown that heating ground beef to 155 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 secondswill kill E. coli bacteria, Doyle said. While scientists work on ways to stop E. coli 0157:H7 contamination of food products, it’seasy to protect yourself. The latest USDA recommendations call for using a meat thermometer to check the internaltemperature. And Doyle concurs that it’s the only perfectly safe way to check. E. coli 0157:H7 causes severe stomach cramps and diarrhea which oftens turns bloody aftertwo or three days. The symptoms usually go away by themselves after six to eight days. But Doyle said just getting a 160-degree reading isn’t a perfect indicator. “There can be a10-degree variation from one spot to another in some hamburgers,” he said. “The coldest spotisn’t always the center.” In a small number of people, most often children, the E. coli strain can cause a rare butserious problem called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can lead to kidney failure anddeath.last_img read more

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