Troubleshooters: How to protect your family from food products that could make you sick

In light of a big recall of ground beef sold across the country, the Action News Troubleshooters are looking into food safety - namely how best to protect you and your family from products that could make you sick.

The latest recall involves 43,000 pounds of ground beef sold at Walmart and other national retailers.

If you have the affected meat you should throw it out, but there are a few other safety precautions you should take as well.

"We've seen a 65% increase in meat and poultry recalls over the past few years, which is under the purview of the USDA," said Emma Horst-Martz of the Public Interest Research Group.

The grass-fed ground beef, both organic and conventional, is the latest product to be recalled. It was sold under the Marketside Butcher and Thomas Farms brands as well as Value Pack Fresh Ground Beef. It has establishment number EST. 46841 in the USDA mark of inspection.

"Potentially for those people who do eat the hamburger and get infected, it could be serious or even potentially life threatening," said Jim Rogers of Consumer Reports.

So, to protect yourself and your family, throw away the meat if it's in your refrigerator or freezer, then clean the area where the recalled meat was stored and wash your hands.

And when cooking ground beef this summer, remember to cook it thoroughly to an internal temperature of 160-degrees Fahrenheit.

"The best way to make sure that happens is to use a food thermometer," said Rogers.
Meaning, don't just eyeball your burger for pinkness or clear juices.

And to avoid serving hazardous products in the future sign up for food safety recall notifications directly from the USDA and the FDA. And spread the word to your network of friends and family.

"And they should probably notify the store where they got it and request that they put up a physical sign saying that the product has been recalled if they don't already have one," said Horst-Martz.

The Public Interest Research Group or PIRG is calling on stores to do a better job of notifying its customers about food recalls. It is also efforting policy changes by the government to further protect Americans from unsafe food. Right now even when testing reveals salmonella in a batch of meat or poultry, it can still be sold.

"And this is a big problem because one in six Americans get sick from foodborne illness every single year. And a million of those cases are specifically from salmonella poisoning," said Horst-Martz.

A recall is only issued after people report getting sick. PIRG is calling on the USDA to reverse the order by banning the sale of meat contaminated with salmonella.
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