Using Food Thermometers
Do you know how important that
food thermometer is? To be safe, check the internal temperature
of the cooked ground beef products while cooking burgers.
officials at the US Department
of Agriculture (USDA) urge consumers and cooks to use an
accurate food thermometer when cooking ground beef patties.
Research shows the color of meat is not a reliable indicator
the meat has reached a temperature high enough to destroy harmful
bacteria such as E. Coli 0157:H7. Restaurant chefs need to know
that the only way to be sure a ground beef patty is cooked to
a high enough temperature to destroy illness-causing microorganisms
is by using a thermometer.
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Services’ studies show
that the color of cooked ground beef patties can be quite variable.
At 160°F, a safely cooked patty may look brown, pink or
some variation of brown or pink. If you cook your burger to
160°F on an instant-read thermometer, you can enjoy a safe,
juicy hamburger. Click here
to visit the FSIS web site.
The USDA food safety officials
also recommend that consumers should not eat ground beef patties
that are pink or red in the middle unless a food thermometer
has been used to verify the cooked temperature. According to
collected data, eating pink ground beef patties without verifying
the cooking temperature is a significant risk factor for food
borne illness. This information is especially important to those
who cook or serve ground beef patties to people most at risk
for food borne illness because E. Coli 0157:H7 can lead to serious
illness or even death. Those most at risk include young children,
the elderly and those who are immunocompromised.
These recommendations are based
on the research findings presented at a public meeting in May
1998. USDA researchers who prepared and cooked patties from
ground beef purchased from various locations across the country
found that over a quarter of the fresh ground beef patties turned
prematurely brown before reaching the safe temperature of 160°F.
- Use an accurate digital instant-read
food thermometer to check the temperature throughout the patty.
The temperature must reach 160°F. Digital food thermometers
are designed to be used toward the end of the cooking time
and register a temperature in about ten seconds. They must
penetrate about 1 inch into the food. If a ground beef patty
is not thick enough to check from the top, or if an instant-read
dial type thermometer is used, the thermometer may be inserted
- Large dial food thermometers
designed for testing whole poultry and roasts during cooking
are not suitable for testing beef patties.
- At 160°F a safely cooked
ground beef patty may look brown, pink or some variation depending
on a variety of factors, such as whether the ground beef was
fresh or frozen, or how it was thawed.
- Be sure to wash and sanitize
the thermometer probe area immediately after testing an undercooked
patty, and when cooking is completed.
- When eating out, ask your
server if the ground beef patties have been cooked to at least
155°F for fifteen seconds, which is a safe option for
restaurant or other food service operations.
USDA Meat and
Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-455 (1-800-256-7072
more information about this article, or any other information,
please call the Bureau
of Consumer Health Services, at 713-794-9200.
to the Food Safety health tips page
the HDHHS Bureau of Consumer Health Services