Raw is still risky: New Brunswick (that’s in Canada) health officials say no to restaurants serving beef tartare

Health officials in New Brunswick are clamping down on restaurants serving beef tartare because the dish, considered by some a delicacy, violates the province’s food regulations.

Kevin Bissett of The Globe and Mail writes that over the past month, 11 restaurants have been given notice to stop serving raw or undercooked meat. The notice came as a surprise to chef Luc Doucet at the Black Rabbit restaurant in Moncton, N.B.

“I was blindsided,” he said in an interview Monday. “I got an email from health inspector that they needed a meeting and they showed up Thursday and served us a letter to cease all tartare operations and take it off the menu.”

The letter said current regulations don’t allow such foods to be served. “Our department was recently made aware that ground beef prepared as per the request of the customer and/or steak tartare is presently available at your food premises,” the letter stated. “This practice must cease immediately as it is in direct violation of the New Brunswick food regulation.”

Doucet said it appears officials were responding to a complaint, even though he’s never heard of anyone becoming sick from eating the dish (huh? – dp). He said he didn’t appreciate the way officials addressed the issue.

“It was not to ask us to provide our procedure for tartare or ground beef at the restaurant,” he said. “It was more, cease every dish that you have, and a lot of my restaurant friends have tartare on the menu.”

Of concern is that undercooked meat can contain pathogens that can make people sick. In a statement, the province said it’s working on establishing how such dishes can be served safely.

“These letters have not been issued as the result of people becoming ill from consuming these foods — instead, they are issued because of general food safety concerns, as eating raw or lightly cooked meats may increase the risk of food poisoning,” wrote Bruce Macfarlane, a spokesman for the Department of Health.

New Brunswick regulations include minimum cooking temperatures for meats such as beef, pork and poultry. The statement said for items like sushi and sous vide, policies are in place to support safe consumption.

Doucet said his beef tartare is composed of a quality cut of meat that is sliced in small cubes rather that ground up, and he said he has sampled tartare in restaurants across the country.

 “Every time I go to Quebec, I have tartare in some form,” he said.

Reader’s Digest nosestretcher alert: 13+ things you shouldn’t eat at a restaurant

In its futile quest to compete in a 140—character universe, Reader’s Digest (Canada) included meat with the bone in as a restaurant no-no.

steak.tartareAnd I quote: “small cuts of meat, like bone-in pork or chicken breasts, are harder to cook thoroughly because their outsides easily char. This often translates to crispy on the outside and raw on the inside. Unlike undercooked beef—say, a rare burger or a steak tartare—undercooked pork and chicken are highly dangerous and could causes foodborne illnesses.”

Rare burgers and steak tartares are microbiological messes and shouldn’t be touched. Regardless of the cut, use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer and stick it in.

barfblog.Stick It In

Let’s not eat raw meat or wear it like Lady Gaga

Rob Mancini, a health inspector with the Manitoba Department of Health, writes:

I have become extremely cautious when I prepare and serve food to my child maybe because I am aware of the possible microbial risks or perhaps due to being a new parent. As an adult I can make informed lady.gaga.raw.meatchoices on what I want to eat, but my son doesn’t have that luxury. It is therefore incumbent upon me to make sure that my son doesn’t eat anything that will make him barf, for example steak tartare. 

Steak tartare and cultural variations — Americian prepare (Belgium), befsztyk tatarski (Poland), beef carpaccio crudos (Chile),  filet americain (Netherlands, Belgium),khemya (Armenia), kibbeh nayyeh (in the Levant),  kitfo (Ethiopia), steack a l’americaine yukhoe (Korea), and yukke (Japan) — are  meat dishes made from finely chopped raw beef. They are typically served with an oil emulsion and seasonings (the latter typically incorporating fresh ground pepper and Worcestershire sauce), sometimes with a raw egg yolk, and served with crostini bread.

Health risks associated with steak tartare include Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp., and Listeria monocytogenes. Salmonella enteritidis acquired through raw egg yolk which is often served with steak tartare

There have been a number of foodborne outbreaks associated with the consumption of steak tartare — Salmonella Typhimurium (Dutch) phage-type 132 in the Netherlands, Japan E. coli O111 Outbreak where 2 children died and  56 ill, Wisconsin107 confirmed and 51 probable cases of Salmonella Typhimurium.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires a prescribed disclosure reminding consumers of the increased risk associated with this product, a disclosure that doesn’t exist in Canada.

Personally I don’t get it. It is clear that there are absolutely no critical control points to minimize the risk of infection: if the meat is contaminated on the farm, the meat will be contaminated on your plate, farm-to-fork concept.  Needle tenderizing will further exacerbate the risks of infection via translocation. We’ve seen this happen before.  It seems to me that searing the meat (whole-intact) prior to slicing may be better way to go but I’d like the research backing this up.  My point is, don’t feed raw meat to your kids, not worth the risk.

Nurse in critical condition; E. coli poisoning leaves 7 sick after eating at Marché 27 in Quebec

Now it’s not so much a secret.

But the owner of Montreal restaurant Marche 27 is, according to CBC News, blaming the supplier for delivering contaminated meat after seven people including a nurse who is in critical condition, were sickened with E. coli after consuming beef tartare.

Owner Jason Masso said he’s been serving tartare at Marché 27 for six years and has steak.tartare.jan.14never had a problem.

Not one he knows of.

Val D’Or resident Isabelle St-Jean told CBC Daybreak host Mike Finnerty that she had been sick for several days and went for the hospital for tests, and that’s when she found out she had E. coli poisoning.  

“They saw that I had E. coli … I was sick to my stomach for one week,” she said.

Masso said his restaurant has passed all inspections and he wants to reassure the public that he has addressed the problem and his restaurant is safe. 

“I want to make sure this never happens again,” Masso told CTV News.

“There’s a lady that was hospitalized … like critically ill — that to me is extremely important.”

That’s the risks with raw meat.

Maybe it was something else? French restaurateur in UK says advice on steak tartare ‘final straw’ and closed

Having run the popular basement eatery La Grillade in Wellington Street for 33 years, Guy Martin-Laval hit out at Leeds City Council officials who, he claims, tipped him over the edge in deciding to shut up shop.

The 65-year-old, who failed to reopen the French restaurant after the New Year, claimed he was planning on investing in the troubled venue before he was given guidance around steak.tartare.jan.14the preparation of steak tartare – traditionally prepared with raw meat.

Leeds City Council has said it has “no problem” with the sale of steak tartare but simply advised Mr Martin-Laval to have safe food handling controls in place so to not put customers at risk.

Mr Martin-Laval was quoted as saying: “There have been constant problems with the drains over the last four years and the fish and chip shop next door didn’t help me. The final straw was the city council food and health team insisting that we pre-cook the steak tartare before chopping it and also saying that we couldn’t serve a raw egg in an egg shell with it.”

He added that the recession and the opening of Trinity Leeds had an effect on the business, which had also prompted him to unsuccessfully renegotiate rent.

A council spokesman said: “This advice is not new and is in line with issued guidance provided by the Food Standards Agency.

“We worked closely with the owner of La Grillade to give advice about techniques to effectively 
kill bacteria and prevent cross-contamination, resulting in a much safer way to produce steak tartare.

“Ultimately the food business is responsible for ensuring food safety, which they need to demonstrate to us.”

Steak tartare in 6 seconds; IT CEO don’t know food safety

Although a couple of months old, we just came across this lovely video from Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo making steak tartare.

Mashable Media reports Twitter users may soon have a new way to share videos  in their tweets via Vine, a small video-sharing startup that Twitter acquired in October.

If Costolo’s tweet is any indication, it appears Twitter is planning to integrate Vine to allow users to embed short clips in their tweets in the same way that Twitter now lets users create and share Instagram-style photos in tweets.

Raw hamburger and eggs and known microbiological risks. No matter how cool you are on Twitter.

I prefer the Mr. bean version, parts 1 and 2 below.

NPR, fail: raw beef kibbeh blamed in Salmonella outbreak; is steak tartare next?

Twenty years after the Jack-in-the-Box outbreak raised the risks of E. coli O157:H7 and undercooked beef to the national stage, and the best state-sponsored jazz can do is ask, “is steak tartare next?”

According to National Public Radio (NPR), despite the current outbreak of Salmonella linked to kibbeh, “raw meat seem to be making a bit of a comeback in the food world, thanks to renewed interest in raw food in steak-tartare-nigel-slate-007general and the raw meat aficionados building off the paleo diet trend, so could steak tartare be next? …

“While many cultures keep traditions involving raw meat, it also seems to be moving more into the mainstream. Is it the manly appeal?

“According to this article from the blog Honest Cooking, steak tartare is ‘raw food for the masculine eater.’ And there is the perception that it’s safer and even healthier to eat meat that’s underdone.”

NPR is relying on food porn rather than food safety.

I don’t care what adults choose to indulge in, but if you’re driving your kids to school and torturing them by listening to NPR, please, keep your poor understanding of microbiology away from your kids.

Two children dead, 56 ill in Japan from E. coli O111 in raw meat

In Jan. 1995, a four-year-old girl died in Australia from E. coli O111 after eating contaminated mettwurst, an uncooked, semi-dry fermented sausage; 173 others were sickened.

The company, Garibaldi, blamed a slaughterhouse for providing the contaminated product, while the State’s chief meat hygiene officer insisted that meat inspections and slaughtering techniques in Australian abattoirs were "top class and only getting better." By Feb. 6, 1995, Garibaldi Smallgoods declared bankruptcy. Sales of smallgoods like mettwurst were down anywhere from 50 to 100 per cent according to the National Smallgoods Council.

The outbreak of E. coli O111 and the reverberations fundamentally changed the public discussion of foodborne illness in Australia, much as similar outbreaks of VTEC or shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) in Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. subsequently altered public perception, regulatory efforts and industry pronouncements in those countries.

Yet almost two decades later, history is still being relived.

Japanese media outlets are reporting that two children have died and 56 other people became ill from food poisoning linked to a raw meat dish at a restaurant in central Japan.

One boy died on Wednesday in Fukui Prefecture and the other boy on Friday in Toyama Prefecture after eating dish called Yukhoe served at restaurants run by Foods Forus Co in Kanazawa. The two were infected with E coli O-111 strain.

Yukhoe refers to a variety of hoe (raw dishes in Korean cuisine), which are usually made from raw ground beef seasoned with various spices or sauces. It is basically a Korean steak tartare.

Raw meat is a bad idea.

The company conceded at a news conference that it had failed to carry out hygiene inspections for the last two years of raw meat supplied by a Tokyo-based wholesaler for the dish.

Foods Forus said that it knew its Tokyo-based wholesaler had not sold the beef concerned to be eaten raw, but it served it raw based on its own judgment.

The wholesaler said it was impossible to comment because the person in charge of the sale was absent, Jiji said.

The Japanese apparently have some high-tech bacterial vision goggles that weren’t used in this case.

E. coli O111 has shown up in several tragic outbreaks, including the illness of 314 people and one death in Oklahoma in 2008, the sickening of 212 people in New York in 2004 linked to unpasteurized apple cider, and in salad that sickened 56 in Texas in 1999.

Jersey paper wrong: steak tartare a bad idea

The Bergen Record, somewhere in north Jersey, ran a story on Dec. 8, 2010 entitled, Tartar steak and roquefort cheese log.

Tartar steak sounds gross but could be microbiologically safe. Unless the author, Susan Leigh Sherill, was referring to steak eaten by Tartars, the combined forces of central Asian peoples including Mongols and Turks who, under the leadership of Genghis Khan, conquered much of Asia and eastern Europe in the early 13th century. I can’t vouch for the safety of what they ate.

The roquefort cheese log is material enough for another post.

Some Americans, like the dead chef, James Beard, I guess dropped the ‘e’ in tartare as too Frenchy. Whatever, the stuff is raw beef and raw eggs, but James Beard’s American Cookery – cocktail food chapter, states, "This way of serving it has convinced many people that raw meat can be thoroughly delicious."

Choose your poisons.

But the crime is when Jersey Susan writes,

“Make sure you buy your beef from a good butcher who understands that you will be serving it raw. I got mine from Rosario’s Market in Montclair.”

That’s nice, but unless your butcher has meat goggles to provide divine insight into the microbiological components of raw beef and eggs, the statement is bio BS.

Stephen Colbert tried out meat goggles the other night.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Cheating Death – Calming Meat Goggles & the iThrone<a>
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> March to Keep Fear Alive

Salmonella in steak tartare in Netherlands sickens teenagers

At what point does steak tartare earn the label, ‘ready-to-eat?’

Maybe it’s a Dutch thing.

Eurosurveillance reports today about the fourth food-borne outbreak in recent years linked to consumption of steak tartare and other raw beef products in the Netherlands. In 2006 to 2008, despite intensive monitoring and control programmes, Salmonella was still found in-store in raw meats (such as steak tartare and ossenworst) intended for direct consumption.

In the latest case, between October and December 2009, 23 cases of Salmonella Typhimurium (Dutch) phage type 132, each with an identical multiple-locus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA) profile (02-20-08-11-212), were reported from across the Netherlands. A case–control study was conducted using the food-consumption component of responses to a routine population-based survey as a control group. The mean age of cases was 17 years (median: 10 years, range: 1–68). Sixteen cases were aged 16 years or under. Raw or undercooked beef products were identified as the probable source of infection. Consumers, in particular parents of young children, should be reminded of the potential danger of eating raw or undercooked meat.

The full report is available at: