MADISON, Wis. – A traditional holiday food favorite in Wisconsin has public health officials in the state bellyaching about foodborne illness.
“Cannibal sandwiches” or “tiger meat” sandwiches are an appetizer that features raw, lean ground beef topped with salt, pepper and onions served on rye bread or crackers. Some recipes call for raw eggs. The appetizer has ties to German, Polish and other ethnic communities in Wisconsin that date to the 19th century. The sandwiches also have been linked to outbreaks of E. coli infections, according to state health officials. A 2012 outbreak of E. coli infections in Watertown, Wis. was linked to consumption of raw ground beef. The sandwiches also were linked to previous, large foodborne illness outbreaks in Wisconsin in 1972, 1978 and 1994.
The danger of foodborne illnesses prompted the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to issue a public notice warning consumers of the dangers of eating raw or undercooked ground meat. In addition to E. coli, consumers are at risk of illness from other pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella and Campylobacter.
“As you plan your meals for upcoming gatherings, remember that no one wants to be sick during the holidays,” advised Dr. Henry Anderson, State Health Officer. “You also don’t want to be responsible for spreading illness to family members and friends.”