No confusion here: cook ground beef to 160F

 As a Canadian citizen with permanent U.S. residency living in Australia, I get confused.

Even with a language professor by my side, I can barely understand a damn word anyone says – especially the Canadians.

Fellow Queenslander Pat Dignam also appears confused when he writes in the Irish Times that food irradiation “is routine in some countries, including the U.S., so eating rare hamburgers there is safe.”

No. A small fraction of American ground beef is irradiated, and almost none of that is available at retail or food service.

Mr. Dignam is correct when he says, “During the butchering process, the surface of cuts of meat may become contaminated with bacteria, notably E. coli, from the intestines of the animal (regardless of the standards applied by the farmer and butcher). Cooking an intact piece of meat on the surface is sufficient to kill any such bacteria. However, when a piece of meat is minced, contamination on the surface can be spread to any part of the product. … Irish mince is not irradiated, so the process of cooking through is crucial. E. coli infection can be fatal, so anyone who wishes to eat rare or raw minced beef in Ireland should take note of these facts.”

Well said, except for the U.S. bit. And things get confusing when intact cuts like steaks are needle-tenderized.

The facts are ground beef in the U.S. needs to be cooked to 160F (71C) as verified by a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

Stick it in.