Infection resulting from foodborne pathogens, including Escherichia coli O157:H7, is often associated with consumption of raw or undercooked ground beef. However, little is known about the frequency of ground beef consumption in the general population. The objective of this study was to describe patterns of self-reported ground beef and pink ground beef consumption using data from the 2006 through 2007 FoodNet Population Survey. From 1 July 2006 until 30 June 2007, residents of 10 FoodNet sites were contacted by telephone and asked about foods consumed within the previous week. The survey included questions regarding consumption of ground beef patties both inside and outside the home, the consumption of pink ground beef patties and other types of ground beef inside the home, and consumption of ground beef outside the home. Of 8,543 survey respondents, 75.3% reported consuming some type of ground beef in the home. Of respondents who ate ground beef patties in the home, 18.0% reported consuming pink ground beef. Consumption of ground beef was reported most frequently among men, persons with incomes from $40,000 to$75,000 per year, and persons with a high school or college education. Ground beef consumption was least often reported in adults ≥65 years of age. Men and persons with a graduate level education most commonly reported eating pink ground beef in the home. Reported consumption of ground beef and pink ground beef did not differ by season. Ground beef is a frequently consumed food item in the United States, and rates of consumption of pink ground beef have changed little since previous studies. The high rate of consumption of beef that has not been cooked sufficiently to kill pathogens makes pasteurization of ground beef an important consideration, especially for those individuals at high risk of complications from foodborne illnesses such as hemolytic uremic syndrome.

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