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Infectious Diseases

how to cook meat for transplant recipients

06/25/2004

Question:

I have heard or read that hamburgers must be cooked thoroughly, while steaks do not have to be cooked all the way through. For a lung transplant recipient, how well done must one cook steak vs hamburgers? Is there a difference and why?

Answer:

For all humans who choose to minimize the chances of acquiring a food-borne illness from meat, common sense measures are prudent. A transplant recipient may also wish to cook hot dogs, lunch meats, and other packaged meats, in order to further minimize the chances of Listeriosis. I cut and pasted this from www.cdc.gov from the section on foodborne illnesses. There's a lot more info there. What can consumers do to protect themselves from foodborne illness? A few simple precautions can reduce the risk of foodborne diseases: COOK meat, poultry and eggs thoroughly. Using a thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meat is a good way to be sure that it is cooked sufficiently to kill bacteria. For example, ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 Fahrenheit. Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm. SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate one food with another. Avoid cross-contaminating foods by washing hands, utensils, and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry and before they touch another food. Put cooked meat on a clean platter, rather back on one that held the raw meat. CHILL: Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature, so refrigerate leftover foods if they are not going to be eaten within 4 hours. Large volumes of food will cool more quickly if they are divided into several shallow containers for refrigeration. CLEAN: Wash produce. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables in running tap water to remove visible dirt and grime. Remove and discard the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage. Because bacteria can grow well on the cut surface of fruit or vegetable, be careful not to contaminate these foods while slicing them up on the cutting board, and avoid leaving cut produce at room temperature for many hours. Don't be a source of foodborne illness yourself. Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food. Avoid preparing food for others if you yourself have a diarrheal illness. Changing a baby's diaper while preparing food is a bad idea that can easily spread illness.

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Response by:

Lisa A Haglund, MD Lisa A Haglund, MD
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati