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Health Authorities Warn: This Holiday Favorite Could Make You Sick

Don't eat 'cannibal sandwiches,' Wisconsin authorities say
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2020 4:31 AM CST

(Newser) – "Cannibal sandwiches" are a holiday tradition in Wisconsin, and if the name alarms you, the state's health authorities say you're on the right track. The sandwiches involve raw ground beef, and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services on Saturday issued its "annual reminder" that eating raw meat is never a good idea. Indulging in the sandwiches, also sometimes called "Tiger Meat," "poses a threat for Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, and Listeria bacteria that can make you sick. (And, no, it doesn't matter where you buy your beef!)" the department warns. A Milwaukee historian has previously explained to Fox 6 that German, Polish, and other ethnic communities in that area have been indulging in the sandwiches at festive gatherings since the 19th century.

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USA Today reports eight outbreaks in the state have been linked to eating raw ground beef since 1986, and the USDA said in 2018 that hundreds in the Midwest get sick each year after eating the sandwiches. Versions are also made with raw venison, lamb, or bacon, and are sometimes topped with raw egg yolk. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that same year took a look at the, er, delicacy, in which "freshly ground raw beef and raw onions" is sandwiched between slices of rye bread. "We want 100% lean beef, super fresh, no injections, no chemicals in it," said the owner of one restaurant that brings someone in to grind the beef as sandwiches are ordered. "We let people season their own. Usually they’ll get the onion and the salt and pepper and a nice beer." The USDA suggests people use the same spices and onion and simply cook the beef: "You may be surprised to find that it tastes better." (Read more Wisconsin stories.)

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