USDA cracking down on tainted meat: How you can stay safe

USDA cracking down on tainted meat: How you can stay safe

AMARILLO-Tainted meat causes hundreds of people to fall ill every single year.

In May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture rolled a new policy aimed at stopping the spread of the disease.

In Seattle back in 1993, an outbreak of tainted beef was found at a Jack in the Box restaurant.

"Some employees were not properly cooking the hamburgers they served," Leesa Wood Calvi with Texas AgriLife said.

Four children died and hundreds more fell dangerously ill.

Incidents like this have prompted the USDA to put stiff penalties and regulations into place to protect Americans.

Its newest revision allows inspectors to immediately investigate possible contamination at manufacturing centers as soon as early testing sparks a potential problem.

Previously, inspectors did not have the authority to begin investigating contamination cases until several tests were completed.

Those tests often took days to yield results.

Tainted beef doesn't always come from the manufacturer. Texas AgriLife says the disease can very well be spread from your grille at home.

"We should never cook a hamburger at anything less than 160 degrees," Calvi said.

This ensures all the bacteria is killed.

Also, watch what utensils you use when cooking meat.

"When you take meat out to the grille and put it on the grille, you need to use a separate tray and separate tongs," she said.

In the end, it takes an educated consumer and a sanitary manufacturing facility to keep E. coli poisoning to a minimal.

We're told the effects of food poisoning can be seen in as little as a few hours.

For more information on food safety and recalls, visit