Health district shows how to properly prepare popular meats to avoid illnesses

Health district shows how to properly prepare popular meats to avoid illnesses

YAKIMA, Wash. - The Yakima Health District says they're seeing an increase in food borne illnesses from popular meats chorizo and carne seca.

"Almost every pathogen that you can find that will come up in food processing is associated with carne seca or chorizo," said Environmental Health Specialist Alison Towsley.

Towsley said in January, Benton County stopped allowing chorizo and carne seca creation in the county.

She said the health district did not want that to happen here in Yakima County, so they did their research to try and come up with a way to safely prepare the meat.

Yakima Health District Program Lead Paul Garcia said since the meat is raw it has to be fully cooked and preparers have to keep the meat at a temperature of 41 degrees or below.

He said they worked with the Department of Health to come up with an extra step in the making process to reduce bacteria exposure.

"We just added a step, which was placing the raw beef in a boiling bath with salt for four seconds," Garcia said. "One additional step and that was able to reduce pathogens."

Local Chef Shawn Niles said he thinks it's important to find a way to safely prepare the dishes because they are a big part of our culture here in Yakima.

"When I think about chorizo I understand that there's a lot of tradition," Niles said. "It's very special but with that there's a lot of processes of how it's created and so taking into consideration the safety as well as the tradition is really important."

Fiesta Foods Meat Manager Tom Smith went to the class offered Thursday afternoon by the health district because he said he wants to make sure his team is properly preparing meats for customers.

"To educate my people and to make sure they're doing the steps that they need to do for safety, is really good," Smith said.

The health district said they have already seen improvements in local preparations and they will continue to educate those in the community.

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