Hamburgers: fresh is not the same as safe

‘Our restaurant’s burgers are safe to eat undercooked: The meat is fresh and ground in-house.’

This is wrong, dangerous, and nothing more than food porn, the wishful thinking that bacteria will avoid certain products if prepared with enough manual labor and love.

Bacteria don’t care about love.

Shamona Harnett of the Winnipeg Free Press reported the all-too-common chat with her server as she tried to order a burger – she went with well-done. And she urged cooks to use a food thermometer to ensure the burger has reached 160 F, which is also an effective way to ensure the cook doesn’t overcook the burger. Thermometers make people better cooks.

Harnett then goes on to say that “experts say consumers should wash lettuce — even if it’s labelled pre-washed.”

No they don’t. An expert panel concluded,

"Leafy green salad in sealed bags labeled ‘washed’ or ‘ready-to-eat’ that are produced in a facility inspected by a regulatory authority and operated under cGMPs, does not need additional washing at the time of use unless specifically directed on the label. The panel also advised that additional washing of ready-to-eat green salads is not likely to enhance safety. The risk of cross contamination from food handlers and food contact surfaces used during washing may outweigh any safety benefit that further washing may confer."

Food safety is not simple.