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Corned beef may pose health risk

Corned beef may rank as a delicacy of choice among Irish-Americans on St. Patrick's Day, but federal officials warn that the popular ethnic dish can cause food poisoning when eaten cold.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention blamed corned beef for two separate outbreaks of food poisoning last St. Patrick's Day in Ohio and Virginia that afflicted more than 240 people with stomach cramps and bouts of vomiting.

The victims were infected by a bacterium called clostridium perfringens, a common source of meat and poultry-related illnesses in the United States. It generally strikes eight to 16 hours after eating.

The federal health agency says consumers can avoid the illness by eating corned beef while it is still hot, or by reheating the meat to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.

The CDC said while the bacterium can survive initial cooking, it mainly poses a problem with corned beef when the food is either eaten cold or has not been adequately reheated.