Health Canada

Health Canada

June 06, 2008 15:55 ET

Health Canada Reminds Canadians of Hamburger Food Safety Tips

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 6, 2008) - Barbeque season has begun and Health Canada would like to remind Canadians of steps they can take to avoid food borne illness from E. coli bacteria from ground beef.

Eating undercooked ground beef can result in a type of food borne illness commonly called hamburger disease, caused by E. coli bacteria. Symptoms can include severe stomach cramps, vomiting, fever and diarrhea. Hamburger disease can be avoided by handling and cooking raw ground beef carefully.

Before you grill:

- When at the grocery store, be sure to keep raw meat separate from other products. Put packages of raw meat in separate plastic bags to keep meat juices from leaking onto other foods.

- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling any raw food, especially raw meat, poultry and seafood.

- Make your hamburger patties thin so that they will easily cook all the way through.

- Keep raw hamburger meat away from other hamburger fixings, such as lettuce, tomato, cheese and condiments.

- Use hot, soapy water to clean all surfaces that come into contact with raw meat.

When you cook:

- Your beef hamburger (fresh or frozen) is done when its internal temperature reaches 71 degrees C (160 degrees F). Recommended internal temperatures for other types of hamburgers may be higher.

- Colour alone is not a reliable indicator that a hamburger is safe to eat. Hamburgers can turn brown before all bacteria are killed, so use a digital food thermometer to be sure.

- To check the temperature of a beef hamburger, take the patty from the grill and insert the digital food thermometer through the side, all the way to the middle of the patty. If you're cooking more than one patty, be sure to check the temperature of all the hamburgers.

- Use clean utensils and plates when removing cooked meats from the grill.

- Remember to wash the thermometer in hot, soapy water between temperature readings.

It is estimated that there are as many as 13 million cases of food-related illnesses in Canada every year. Many of these illnesses could be prevented by following proper food handling and preparation techniques.

For more information about keeping safe this barbeque season, see Safe Summer Fun ( and our It's Your Health on hamburger disease (

As part of a pilot project to extend the reach and distribution of the department's risk communications activities, Health Canada has produced a number of audio files (MP3 format) to accompany the release of this Information Update.

The files and a full script can be accessed on the Health Canada Web site (

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