N.Y. Times sucks at food safety: stick a piece of metal in a burger and lick it, rather than a thermometer, to tell if it’s done?

In the continuing saga of bad food safety advice in the N.Y. Times – and the elevation of food pornography over food safety – the Times today ran a piece about the perfect burger.

In interviews with dozens of so-called chefs around the U.S., not one mentioned the use of a tip-sensitive digital thermometer to ensure a final, safe temperature of 160F, or that color is an exceedingly lousy indicator of doneness or food safety (that’s Ben, right, exactly as shown, grillin’ up some Canada Day burgers)

The story does say, “testing for doneness is always a challenge for the home cook. Seamus Mullen, the chef and an owner of the Boqueria restaurants in the Flatiron district and SoHo, uses a wire cake tester. (Any thin, straight piece of metal will work as well.)

“We stick it in the middle through the side. If it’s barely warm to the lips, it’s rare. If it’s like bath water, it’s medium rare. The temperature will never lie. It takes the guesswork out of everything.”

Rather than putting E. coli O157:H7 on your precious testing lips, stick a thermometer in. You’re already sticking a piece of metal in so why not a thermometer?

Ben has just added to the Mark Bittman history of spewing out food safety nonsense that I have been tracking for at least two years.

The Times also published the whopper by Nina Planck, who at the height of the fall 2006 E. coli O157:H7 spinach outbreak, wrote in the Times that E. coli O157:H7 "is not found in the intestinal tracts of cattle raised on their natural diet of grass, hay and other fibrous forage. … It’s the infected  manure from these grain-fed cattle that contaminates the groundwater  and spreads the bacteria to produce, like spinach, growing on  neighboring farms."

This falsehood is routinely repeated, most recently in the entertaining but factually-challenged movie, Food Inc.

The natural reservoirs for E. coli O157:H7 and other verotoxigenic E. coli is the intestines of all ruminants, including cattle — grass or grain-fed — sheep, goats, deer and the like. The final report of the fall 2006 spinach outbreak identifies nearby grass-fed beef cattle as the likely source of the E. coli O157:H7 that sickened 200 and killed 4.

In my own unique version of how-to-win-friends-and-influence-people, I called Bittman and celebrity food porn doofus Jamie Oliver idiots for their advice on how to cook chicken and their ability to cross-contaminate an entire kitchen within seconds.

N.Y. Times, you are furthering your descent to irrelevancy.