The Wisconsin Department of Health has featured on their website slider the following warning: “Raw Meat Sandwiches: Whether you call them ‘tiger meat’ or ‘cannibal sandwiches’ remember that eating raw or undercooked ground meat can result in illness”.

One year ago, a report in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publication, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), discussed the seasonal consumption of eating raw ground beef  served as “tiger meat” or “cannibal sandwiches” and the risk for infections like Escherichia coli O157:H7.

What is a cannibal sandwich?

A cannibal sandwich is by definition, raw ground beef typically served on rye bread or crackers with onions. Occasionally, a raw egg will be mixed with the meat. It is a traditional winter holiday specialty in certain regions of the upper Midwest.

LISTEN: Abbey Canon, DVM, MPH, LT, United States Public Health Service, Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, CDC and Bureau of Communicable Diseases and Emergency Response, Wisconsin Division of Public Health discusses the risk of Cannibal sandwiches

Historically in areas of Wisconsin, raw ground beef served as tiger meat was associated with large (more than 50 cases) outbreaks of foodborne illness reported to the Wisconsin Division of Public Health (WDPH) during 1972, 1978, and 1994.

The authors of the paper note despite ongoing outreach efforts addressing the dangers associated with consuming undercooked or raw ground beef, this regional holiday tradition continues to be associated with outbreaks.