(Londa) The meat industry is doing a great job of keeping things as safe as possible. They’re working very hard to make sure that the products consumers are buying is as safe as possible. (Travis) The beef in the United States is safe regardless whether we’re talking about conventionally raised product, whether we’re talking about organic or natural. All beef is safe because it’s all inspected by the USDA. All of the standards that go into effect for traditional, conventionally raised product are also applied to any other form of production system as well. Before the hide’s removed they do everything they can to remove through a hot water bath as much of the contamination on the outside of the hide as possible. Throughout the entire process, once the hide is removed the carcasses go through another hot water bath cabinet in which they spray 180 degree water on the outside of the carcass, in order to hopefully kill as many bacteria that may potentially be contaminated on there as possible. And then all the way through to the processing side many times before that carcass is ever fabricated or even when the sub-primal meat goes into packages, or ground product does, it’s typically sprayed with some other form of antibacterial, whether we’re talking about citric acid or lactic acid. So, another hurdle, if you will, in the process to prevent any form of contamination from making it all the way to the consumer. (Londa) Potentially ground beef could have some microbial contaminants. Animals are grown in an environment where there’s potential contaminants. They’re grown outside and so those contaminants can potentially get into the meat eventually. There can be things like salmonella, there could be E. coli, there could be campylobacter, other microbial contaminants that are quite common in our food, that can happen in our food supply. (Travis) We look at intact steak products or roast products, the inside of that muscle, where it’s never been exposed to the outer air surface is sterile. That’s why we can safely cook and prepare steak and roast meats to a rare degree of doneness, because the inside of of that meat was never contaminated, or never even had the potential to be contaminated with any form of pathogenic bacteria. Ground beef product on the other hand, is something that is highly a concern, because the outside of that product, what was once the outside is ground up into what is now the inside of the product. Because of that the outside is no safer than the inside and so we have to make sure we prepare those products accordingly because of that. (Londa) Any ground beef, pork, lamb those should be cooked to 160 degrees. That temperature is safe to make sure that we know that you’re killing off any bacteria that could be present. Definitely always use a thermometer to make sure that the temperature is correct. Unfortunately color is not a really good indicator, in particular for ground meats, of if it’s done or not. I tell people microorganisms don’t care what color the meat is, they only care what temperature it’s been cooked to. So, make sure that that temperature is getting up to 160 degrees for ground meats. If it’s ground turkey or ground chicken or any whole chicken or turkey products you want to cook that to 165 degrees because there’s certain microorganisms that tend to be more possible to be in those meats, that you want to make sure you’re getting to a higher temperature. If you’re cooking a roast or a steak, intact product that hasn’t been tenderized, those only need to be cooked to 145 degrees. (Travis) From a where contamination can occur, it can occur at any point in time from the time that animal is harvested, all the way up until the time it goes onto the plate. A lot of time consumers don’t take a lot of responsibility for mishandling raw meat products in their own home, but if they undercook the product or one of the big things is cross contamination using some of the same utensils or plates that they use with a raw product on cooked product, that’s the number one location for cross contamination that does result in food borne illness. (Londa) You know any sort of food product that you’re eating could potentially have contaminants in it, that’s why the whole way from the farm all the way to the consumer that we’re doing things as safely as possible, that we’re making sure that we’re all using safe handling practices.