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Cannibal sandwiches: CDC warns of raw-meat cannibal or ‘tiger meat’ sandwiches

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Cannibal sandwiches, also known as “tiger meat,” are made out of raw meat and can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps and, in the most severe cases, kidney failure. After several people have become sick from eating "tiger meat" or "cannibal sandwiches,” the CDC issued a warning on Dec. 6, 2013.

In cannibal sandwiches, the raw ground beef typically is served on rye bread or crackers with onions.

Cannibal sandwiches are a traditional winter holiday specialty in certain regions of the upper Midwest and raw beef cannibal sandwiches have been linked to at least four cases, and possibly more than a dozen, of sickness tied to Escherichia coli O157:H7 bacteria in the central region of Wisconsin.

According to the CDC, the people who had become sick with the bacteria Escherichia coli O157:H7 “revealed that they had eaten raw ground beef purchased from the same meat market and served as ‘tiger meat’ or ‘cannibal sandwiches’."

In its Dec. 6 statement, the CDC warns that following the tradition of eating cannibal sandwiches, during the holiday season or at any other time, is taking a health risk. Web videos showing amateur chefs preparing and dining on blood-red beef chunks dusted with pepper, topped with onions, packed with capers, and piled onto sandwich bread with cheese and mustard, do not show the consequences of having devoured a cannibal sandwich – bloody diarrhea, stomach cramps, and being hooked to a dialysis machine.

“Discouraging this tradition requires regional targeted consumer and retailer education to ensure understanding of the potential for severe illness associated with raw ground beef consumption. Retailers in this region should be encouraged to directly discourage their customers from consuming raw ground beef. To prevent illness, ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C), as measured with a food thermometer, before consumption.”

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