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Misleading: Meat With "Bubbles" is Deadly

Tracy Davenport Tracy Davenport
Food & Beverages
29th September 2020
Misleading: Meat With "Bubbles" is Deadly
The lesions are likely actually M. bovis (Getty Images).

The Claim

Meat is deadly and dangerous if you see bubbles in the meat.

Emerging story

Social media users have been sharing pictures of meat with spots on it warning others to not eat the meat if these spots are present. The original post was shared two years ago almost 200K times and has reappeared each year in the fall, presumably before the beginning of deer hunting season. 

Misbar’s Analysis

Misbar’s investigation found the social media posts to be misleading. The posts show meat most likely with lesions from Bovine Tuberculosis. According to Purdue Extension, Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is a bacterial disease of mammals resulting from the infection of Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis). 

Bovine tuberculosis can move between animals and humans. Transmission of M. bovis to humans typically occurs when people eat unpasteurized dairy products, but people can also contract M. bovis directly through an open wound. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), M. bovis is most commonly found in cattle and other animals such as bison, elk, and deer.

People are most commonly infected with M. bovis by eating or drinking contaminated, unpasteurized dairy products. Infection can also occur from direct contact with a wound, such as what might occur during slaughter or hunting, or by inhaling the bacteria in air exhaled by animals infected with M. bovis according to the CDC. 

According to Food Microbiology, “Wildlife such as red deer infected with M. bovis are often without pathological findings, thus meat thereof may be classified as safe for human consumption.” However, there are several layers of safeguards in place to prevent infection from M. bovis when we consume meat. First, inspections of slaughtered animals happen at the state and federal levels which will prevent the general consumer from contact. If you are consuming wild meat that has not been through an inspection process, then the second level of protection is important and comes from cooking the meat. Meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill M. bovis and other bacteria. 

A chart of safe cooking temperatures is published  by FoodSafety.gov

The white bubbles on meat is most likely M. bovis, not a virus. If these spots are seen on meat to be consumed, cooking the meat to the correct temperature will kill the bacteria. 

Misbar’s Classification


Misbar’s Sources

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