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Old 03-13-2007, 03:55 PM   #1
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E. Coli Question

Hello, yesterday I took a bite off meatloaf that may have been pink. There were some very small pink spots around the meatloaf (not neccesary in the center), and I'm not sure if I ate a pink piece. I normally wouldn't be worried, but I am already sick with something else.

Now, I did my research, and I found out that as long as the center of the meatloaf reaches 160 degrees F then it is hot enough to kill the bacteria, even if there are pink spots. I didn't use a meat thermometer but I wanted to ask people with experience in frying meat loaf.

1) I fried it the the frying pan
2) I fried it for 35 minutes
3) It is roughly almost 2 inches tall and 3 inches wide
4) I cooked 4 sides for 5 minutes
5) Very brown, on the outside.

So my question, for people that use the meat thermometer a lot, is this hot enough for the center to reach 160 degrees?

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Old 03-13-2007, 04:01 PM   #2
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You would already be sick if it were contaminated. In my opinion, your cooking method would definitelyhave cooked it adequately. I think you will be OK.
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Old 03-13-2007, 04:05 PM   #3
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I have to admit that this is the very first time I've ever heard of someone "frying" a meat loaf. "Frying" burger patties, yes; meatloaf, no. However, based on the size you gave, I'm guessing that what you fried was more a burger than an actual meatloaf.

That said, the only way you'd be able to tell if you cooked it enough for the interior temp to reach the suggested 160 degrees would be if you had inserted a meat thermometer into the center.

Just going by time cooked & the color really tells nothing. However, again, based on the size of the portion you cooked, I think you're safe. : )
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Old 03-13-2007, 04:36 PM   #4
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Scattered pink spots about do not sound like uncooked areas, maybe areas where there we pieces of red pepper, or some other ingredient.

I too am confused about the geometry of your meatloaf.

But I do agree that your food sounds adequately cooked, if not more so.

Relax and hope you feel better.
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Old 03-13-2007, 07:00 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies guys. I'll be a little more specific with the size. It is a little bit smaller then a size 9 shoe, mens. There was one pinkish-reddish spot, not in the middle, a little bit smaller then a pea. The center, and overall, it looked cooked, but a little soft. (there were other ingredients besides meat though)
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Old 03-13-2007, 07:28 PM   #6
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You'll be just fine. But that's coming from someone who is definitely not a "food phobe". It's good to be careful this day & age as far as uncooked meat, but you can still go overboard careful-wise.

But even taking it from a "food phobe" point of view. You're fine. : )
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Old 03-13-2007, 07:48 PM   #7
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If you were gonna be sick, you'd be sick by now. Food poisoning doesn't exactly sneak up on you.
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Old 03-13-2007, 07:57 PM   #8
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If you were going to have symptoms of E.Coli you would have nausea, vomiting and diarrahea. Also, E.Coli usually gives you these symptoms within 24hours of eating the contaminated food. Sounds like the meat was adequately cooked. I'm wondering if the pink was from some other ingredient in the meatloaf??
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Old 03-13-2007, 09:03 PM   #9
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Thanks again for the replies guys. The thing I'm worried about is that symptoms can somtimes appear 3 days after contamination, with this particualar bacteria. However, as long as the center reached above 160, I should be fine.
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Old 03-13-2007, 11:58 PM   #10
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Well, I, too, have never heard of a skillet fried meatloaf. Although, I have taken a slice of cold cooked leftover meatloaf and "fried" it to heat it through.

Worrying about if it was safe to eat after you ate it is kind of like closing the barn doors after the horses are out. It's too late now.

Microbes, like e.coli, die from heat - not color. And, unforunately, color does not indicate temperature. You can have undercookd beef that is brown (about 140F), and you can have a perfectly cook beef roast that is still nice and pink after reaching the well-done stage of 160-170F. You can have chicken that is cooked to the perfect safe temperature and the meat, and juices, can still have a pinkish tinge to them. That's why safe cooking guidelines are based on temperature, not color.

We can all "theorize" and "hypothesize", we can "speculate" and "guesstimate" from past experience about what probably is or might be safe - but none of us can really know that the internal temp was sufficient to insure adequate 160F cooking if you didn't use a thermometer to test it.

But, not all beef is contaminated with e. coli, not all chickens and eggs with salmonella, not all pork with trichinosis. Sometimes we just luck out even if we don't follow the rules set up by the "food police" - but the rules are there to remove the risks and ensure safety, something that is mandatory in a restaurant but optional in your home kitchen.

For the future - get an instant read thermometer (you can get one for as little as about $10 at WalMart, Target or K-Mart) and use it if you're that concerned. If not - don't worry about it.

Now - what to do with the hunk-o-meat you've got ... you can wrap it in aluminumn foil with a little beef broth or water and bake it until the center reaches 160F, you can cut it in 1/2-inch thick slices and pan fry for about 3-4 minutes per side (top and bottom), or slice it 1-inch thick and microwave on high power for 4-5 minutes - then let it rest 1-2 minutes. Again, without a thermometer these are just "speculative" guidelines. One problem with these suggestions is that it will wind up "overcooked" by the time you are sure it is "fully cooked" to 160F. You can add some moisture back to the meatloaf with sauces - a brown sauce, a mushroom sauce, a nice piquant tomato sauce, etc. Heck, if you slice it thin and "fry it up" in a skillet to make a sandwich ... mayo, mustard or some other simliar condiment will work just fine.
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