Always eat fully cooked meat

Dr KK Aggarwal

President Heart Care Foundation of India

The sale of meat has fallen in Kolkata following rumors that chemically processed carcass meat was being sold to the public. As a result, the price of fish increased markedly due to increased demand.

The carcass meat had been treated with chemicals like calcium propionate, aluminum phosphate, aluminum sulfate and other nitrites and nitrates to pass it off as fresh meat. It has been suggested that lead sulfates may also have been used.

This unregulated use of chemicals to keep the meat fresh at the same time retaining its odor and flavor is dangerous for human health and may even be potentially fatal.

The various infections that may spread via meat include Salmonella, E. coli (enteropathogenic type), Listeria monocytogenes, Campylobacter jejuni, Yersinia enterolytica, Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium botulinum, Mycotoxin producing moulds and Norovirus. Gastrointestinal anthrax follows ingestion of contaminated and undercooked meat.

Here are some tips for safe meat eating:

  1. Always eat fully cooked meat i.e. it should have been cooked all the way through.
  2. Poultry, pork, offal, including liver, burgers, sausages, rolled joints of meat and kebabs should be cooked thoroughly before eating. The color of the meat alters when it is cooked. Any pink meat still left means undercooked meat.
  3. When cooking burgers, sausages, chicken, and pork, cut into the middle to check that the meats no longer pink, the juices run clear and its steaming hot throughout.
  4. Safest option: Fully cook food in your oven and then put the cooked food on the barbecue for a short time so the flavor can develop. This can be an easier option if youre cooking for a lot of people at the same time.
  5. The two main risk factors if youre only cooking on the barbecue are: undercooking meat and spreading germs from raw or undercooked meat on to food thats ready to eat. Ensure that the coals are glowing red with a powdery grey surface before you start cooking, as this means theyre hot enough; frozen meat is fully defrosted before you cook it and you turn the meat regularly and move it around the barbecue to cook it evenly.

“When in doubt, cook it out”. Always follow this dictum for safe meat eating.

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