Safe Handling of Raw Ground Meat & Poultry
Raw meat and poultry may contain bacteria that can cause illness if handled unsafely or cooked improperly. Ground meat and poultry are more perishable than most food so it is especially important to follow techniques that help prevent food borne illness.
When shopping, buy ground meat packages that are tightly wrapped. The meat surface exposed to air will be red; interior of fresh meat will be dark. Take perishable food straight home to your refrigerator, which should be set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Freeze fresh meat immediately if it wont be used within 1 or 2 days.
Keep raw meats and their juices away from other food. For example, wash your hands, counters, and other surfaces in hot soapy water after handling raw meat. Dont let raw meat juices touch ready-to-eat foods. Dont put cooked food on the same plate that held raw meat or poultry.
Cook meat thoroughly. It takes thorough cooking to kill bacteria, so youre taking chances when you eat partly cooked meat. To be perfectly safe, use a thermometer to see that patties, loaves and crumbled beef are cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit; ground poultry should be 180 degrees.
If you develop nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, it could be foodborne illness. Its not easy to tell, since, depending on the illness, symptoms appear from 30 minutes to two weeks later. Most often, people get sick four to 48 hours after eating bad food. If symptoms are severe or the victim is very young, old, pregnant, or already ill, call a doctor or go to the hospital.
Source: USDA publication "A Consumer Guide to Safe Handling and Preparation of Ground Meat and Poultry"