USDA Urges Consumers To Use Food Thermometer When Cooking Ground Beef Patties
August 11, 1998
WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 1998 -- Food safety officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture today urged consumers to use an accurate food thermometer when cooking ground beef patties because new 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 O157:H7.
"Consumers need to know that the only way to be sure a ground beef patty is cooked to a high enough temperature to destroy any harmful bacteria that may be present is to use a thermometer," said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Catherine Woteki.
Thomas J. Billy, administrator of USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, explained that USDA studies show that the color of cooked ground beef patties can be quite variable. At 160 degrees F a safely cooked patty may look brown, pink or some variation of brown or pink.
"The bottom line is that if you cook your burger to 160 degrees F on an instant-read food thermometer, you can enjoy a safe, juicy burger," said Billy.
The USDA food safety officials today also recommended 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 cooked temperature. USDA data show that eating pink ground beef patties without using a thermometer is a significant risk factor for foodborne illness.
"This information is especially important for those who cook or serve ground beef patties to people most at risk for foodborne illness because E. coli O157:H7 can lead to serious illness or even death," said Billy. Those most at risk include young children, the elderly and those who are immunocompromised.
USDA officials said recommendations described today are based on the research findings presented at a public meeting in Arlington, Va., on May 27. 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 degrees F.
Susan Conley, director of FSIS's Food Safety Education and Communications Staff, offers these food safety tips:
This article was provided by U.S. Department of Agriculture.