Hamburger Habits: Is Medium Safe?

I’m a reformed medium-rare hamburger eater. Before I met Doug, I always wanted my hamburgers pink in the middle and frankly had no clue that this was a potentially risky habit. Now that I’ve learned hamburger needs to be cooked to 160 F to be safe, however, I rarely eat hamburger unless Doug cooks it at home. That’s the only way I can assure that the cook is using a meat thermometer and knows how to properly do so.

Tonight, though, I’m in Buffalo, NY and I had dinner with two British friends in a rowdy Irish pub. While I intended to order salad, the pickings were few on the menu and I settled on a cheeseburger with fries. The waitress asked me, “How do you want that cooked.” Somewhat startled and without my food safety arsenal beside me, I said, “Medium.” I hate well-done hamburger because of the texture, but I wanted my burger safe. How could I tell her that?

My burger came and was very medium rare looking … very pink in the middle and done on the outside. I ate it. The whole thing. And it tasted good. And now I’m thinking about my foolish behavior and wondering if I’ll get e. coli. I know that color is a lousy indicator and I know it’s not likely I’ll get sick. But without the thermometer, how can you be sure?