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Cannibal sandwiches: Raw beef treats linked to E. coli outbreaks

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Cannibal sandwiches made with raw ground beef may be a popular holiday treat in some Midwest towns, but the cannibal sandwiches are making people sick, ABC News reported on Dec. 6 about the strange trend.

Cannibal sandwiches have been around for decades, but health officials are warning people to avoid eating the raw meat treat because of illness outbreaks in Wisconsin.

The cannibal sandwich, sometimes also called “tiger meat,” typically is made with raw ground beef — yes, raw — that is seasoned with salt and pepper, topped with onions and served on crackers or rye bread. The cannibal sandwiches are considered a popular winter treat in some communities.

But in Wisconsin, the cannibal sandwiches have been linked to dozens of illnesses from E. coli bacteria dating to 2012 and at least two illnesses so far this year. Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is trying to stay ahead of the curve by warning people to avoid eating cannibal sandwiches.

“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,” the CDC said in a Dec. 6 report about the cannibal sandwiches. “Retailers in this region should be encouraged to directly discourage their customers from consuming raw ground beef.”

According to Medical Daily, the cannibal sandwiches are actually linked to illnesses as far back as the 1970s. It said that the tradition of cannibal sandwiches was created in German and Polish communities in Milwaukee and has continued to today. Many people say they’ve enjoyed cannibal sandwiches and never gotten sick.

Still, an E. coli infection contracted by eating cannibal sandwiches or other contaminated food is a serious and possibly life-threatening condition. Symptoms of E. coli infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps and nausea. Although most healthy people recover from an E. coli infection within a week, others can develop dangerous forms of kidney failure.

That may have you thinking twice about eating a cannibal sandwich, if the thought of it alone isn’t enough to turn stomachs.

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