The CDC recommends you steam what now?

There’s been a meaty salmonella outbreak, but the CDC doesn’t know the exact cause yet.

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charcuterie plate
Photo: Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post (Getty Images)

Salmonella alert! The CDC reports that there’ve been two salmonella outbreaks, both connected to “Italian-style meats.” We’re using quotation marks because neither the type of meat nor the brand has been narrowed down quite yet.

Per the CDC, meats in 17 states have been affected, with 36 illness cases reported along with 12 hospitalizations. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, and stomach cramps, usually six hours to six days after eating the food infected with the bacteria.

Most people tend to recover on their own from four to seven days; however, Salmonella runs a higher risk for severe infections for those older than 65 and younger than five years old. You also have to be careful if you take certain medications that lower your ability to fight germs, or if you have underlying health conditions that make you vulnerable. You should see a doctor immediately if you’ve got a fever of higher than 102°F, accompanied by diarrhea for more than three days that isn’t getting better (watch out for blood, too), excessive vomiting, and signs of dehydration.

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If you can’t resist that charcuterie board, the CDC recommends you heat your meat to 165°F before consuming it, or until “steaming hot,” before you dig in. I’ve never seen anyone steam charcuterie meat before (can you just steam the whole board...?), so if any of you insist on doing it, let us know how that goes. Steam the accoutrements, too. Let’s go with an entirely wet charcuterie board.

Quick reminder that this applies to all “Italian-style meats,” which seems like a generic term. The CDC clarifies that the term covers a swath of varieties like prosciutto and salami, along with “other meats that can often be found in antipasto or charcuterie assortments.” So, still a bit vague, but better safe than sorry.

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Aside from topping pizza with cured meat at my old job as a pizza maker, I don’t cook with “Italian-style meat” too often, unless I’m crisping up something like prosciutto to put in a salad. Maybe the CDC is onto something. There may be a whole world of steamed “Italian-style” meats that we’ve yet to explore. Are you willing to take this voyage?