When it comes to social issues I’m a bit of a libertarian hippy. I’ve looked the part (big bushy beard and longer thinning hair); used to play ultimate frisbee (poorly); and, our first-born was delivered at home. I saw The Dead, after Jerry, but I never really got into Phish.
The philosophy I’ve embraced around food safety is let people eat what they want.
Extension folks like me should provide the best available evidence culled from the literature to help eaters calculate the risks and benefits of food choices. Present the info in a compelling way and then step back to let the individual do their thing.
Hopefully the choice results in the least amount of barf.
As North Carolina moves down the path of adopting the U.S FDA model food code, restaurant patrons will be able to order an undercooked burger, and the restaurant able to serve it, without risking a lower inspection grade. The responsibility to communicate the risks associated with undercooked burgers, and other raw/undercooked animal-derived foods (eggs, poultry, fish) lies with the restaurant. Risk must be disclosed somehow, and a reminder presented to the patron when they order.
Temperature guidance for cooking burgers doesn’t change (the food code suggests 155F for 15 seconds or 160F for 5-log reduction), just the ability for the restaurant to respond to patron requests – with the caveat of the mandatory risk discussion. And the risk dialogue applies to stuff like Caesar salad dressing, hollandaise sauce and sushi.
According to Kathleen Purvis of the Charlotte Observer:
The N.C. Commission for Public Health this week approved the adoption of most of the 2009 federal food code. Among other changes, it would allow restaurant customers to order raw or undercooked foods if the restaurant provides a warning – usually a note on the menu – to remind you it’s dangerous. A similar procedure is already followed in many states, including South Carolina.