Burgers can be yummy AND safe if you follow a few easy steps during food prep.
Preparing burgers in the home is a common practice, however, many consumers fall to myths associated with determining burger doneness.
Wash your hands thoroughly by wetting your hands, scrubbing with soap and water for 20 seconds, and drying with a disposable paper towel.
Season the meat and form the patties!
Drop your meat into the pan and let it sizzle! Wash your hands again! You touched meat that may have yucky germs on it!
Your meat looks about done. How should you check if it’s done?
A quick Google search recommends doing one of the following:
A) Pressing down on the burger and observing the color of the juices that run out.
B) Using the finger and palm test to determine the texture
C) Cutting your burger in half to look at the color in the middle.
D) Using a certain amount of time.
A, B, C, and D are all incorrect methods of determining burger doneness. None of these Google methods actually ensure your burgers are cooked safely. Pathogens like E.coli , Salmonella , and Listeria may still be lurking!
Let’s talk about why these Googled methods shouldn’t be used.
- Each person’s perception of “medium rare” varies. Color is unreliable as an indicator of doneness compared to temperature.
- Meat color can be influenced by the chemical properties and can cause pre-mature browning of the meat. While I might say medium rare is a light pink, but you might say it should be dark pink.
- Color is as subjective as touching or poking to feel if it’s done (perceived tenderness).
- Time can vary depending on the heating source (grill vs. stove).
How do you know if that burger you pulled off is ready and safe to eat?
The only way to truly know if your burger is ready to eat, as recommended by the USDA, is to insert a food thermometer through the side, positioning the tip towards the center of the food. Thermometer use ensures that your meat reaches the minimal internal temperature to kill pathogens that can make you sick.
Watch the whole video below for a delicious and safe way to prepare your burger!
Yummy+Safe is an entity of NC State University co-founded by Minh Duong and Mary Yavelak.