News Release Archive

Nova Scotians should remember to cook food properly, particularly
hamburger meat.

Improperly cooked meats can lead to hemorrhagic colitis, or what
is commonly referred to as hamburger disease. Hemorrhagic colitis
is caused by bacteria that tend to be transmitted through
improperly cooked food. The bacteria, which occur naturally, can
damage the lining of the intestine by producing a toxin.

Provincial health officials say 27 cases of hemorrhagic colitis
have been reported in 1996. Sixteen of the cases have occurred in
the last six weeks.

Consumers should note that bacteria causing hemorrhagic colitis
can be found in beef, pork, chicken, turkey and raw milk. Cooking
destroys the bacteria. In humans, most cases of the disease have
been caused by eating undercooked ground meat. Drinking raw milk,
contaminated water and contaminated apple cider are other causes. 

"Basic hygienic practices in preparing and cooking food, combined
with hand washing, are common sense steps to reduce the risk of
hemorrhagic colitis and other illnesses transmitted through the
food supply," said Dr. Jeff Scott, the provincial medical officer
of health.

The following steps should be followed for safer food

* wash hands before handling food, and after handling raw meat;
* refrigerate or freeze meat as soon as possible following
* thaw meats in the refrigerator, not on the counter;
* prepare raw meat hamburger patties quickly, and cook
immediately or refrigerate;
* use hot soapy water to wash dishes, cutting boards and counters
after using them to prepare raw meat;
* meat should be thoroughly cooked at the centre, and meat and
poultry juices should be clear, not pink or red;
* place cooked meat on clean plates, not plates used for raw
* serve cooked meat immediately, or keep hot (60 degrees Celsius
or 140 degrees Fahrenheit);
* refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible following a meal.

Food poisoning can be serious in children and older people.
Follow these simple steps to prevent illness.


Contact: Lori MacLean 902-424-5025

jlw                        Aug. 16, 1996      4:15 p.m.