The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s food safety and consumer protection program, and the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s food safety inspection program, are encouraging consumers to properly handle and fully cook meat products before they are consumed.

The departments are joining forces to make sure the public knows that the United States Department of Agriculture has issued a health alert as a result of 14 illnesses caused by E. coli O157:H7 between September 2005 and March 2006. The illnesses were found in California, Iowa, New York, Ohio, Michigan, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

The four components are promoted by USDA through its "Fight BAC!" food safety guidelines:


Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often

Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Wash your cutting boards, dishes, etc., with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item. Wash fruits and vegetables with cold water before using. There is no need to wash or rinse meat or poultry.

Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate

Separate raw, cooked, and ready-to-eat foods while shopping, preparing, or storing. Never place cooked food on a plate which previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood.

Cook: Cook food to proper temperatures

To be sure bacteria and pathogens are destroyed, cook ground beef products to 160 degrees F. Use a food thermometer to be sure!

Chill: Refrigerate promptly

Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods, and leftovers within 2 hours or sooner.