Burger safety

A food safety friend went to a U.S. burger joint, and asked to have his burger cooked to 160F.

gonz.med.rare.burgerThe counter person asked whether he’d like some pink.

He replied, No, I’d like it cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F.

Which color is equal to 160°F?

He didn’t know.

So, he settled for well done.

In frustration, my friend send this letter to HQ.

No response.

For a couple of decades the color of cooked ground beef has been known

to not be a reliable indicator of safety.  (1-4, 6-8)

Temperature is. (5)

Do your cooks use a thermometer?

Can your correlate the cooked color to an internal temperature for

each batch of ground beef?

As a septuagenarian, my immune system is not as robust as it once was.

And, my great grandaughter’s immune system isn’t as robust as it will be.

barfblog.Stick It InWe like safe burgers, not over cooked ones.

Can you help?


  1. Berry, B.W.1994. Fat Level, High Temperature Cooking and Degree of

Doneness Affect Sensory, Chemical, and Physical Properties of Beef

Patties. J. Food Science. 59 (1): 10-14, 19.

  1. Cornforth, D.; C.R. Calkins, C. Faustman. 1991. Methods for

Identification and Prevention of Pink Color in Cooked Meat. Reciprocal

Meat Conference Proceedings, AMSA 44:53-58.

  1. Hague, M.A.; K.E. Warren; M.C. Hunt; D.H. Kropf; C.L. Kastner; S.L.

Stroda; and D.E. Johnson. 1994. Endpoint Temperature, Internal Cooked

Color, and Expressible Juice Color Relationships in Ground Beef

Patties. J. Food Sci. 59 (3): 465-470.

  1. Hunt, M.C.; K.E. Warren; M.A. Hague; D. H. Kropf; C.L. Waldner;

S.L. Stroda; and C.L. Kastner. 1995. Cooked Ground Beef Color is

Unreliable Indicator of Maximum Internal Temperature. Department of

Animal Sciences, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-0201.

Presentation to American Chemical Society April 6, 1995.

  1. Line,-J.E.; Fain,-A.R.-Jr.; Moran,-A.B.; Martin,-L.M.;

Lechowich,-R.V.; Carosella,-J.M.; Brown,-W.L.. 1991.  Lethality of

heat to Escherichia coli 0157:H7: D-value and Z-value determinations

in ground beef. J-Food-Prot..54:762-766.

  1. Mendenhall, V.T. 1989. Effect of pH and Total Pigment Concentration

on the Internal Color of Cooked Ground Beef Patties. J. Food Sci. 54

(1): 1-2.

  1. Trout, G.R. 1989. Variation in Myoglobin Denaturation and Color of

Cooked Beef, Pork, and Turkey Meat as Influenced by pH, Sodium

Chloride, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, and Cooking Temperature. J. Food

Sci. 54 (3): 536-544.

  1. USDA-ARS/FSIS. 1998. Premature Browning of Cooked Ground Beef. Food

Safety and Inspection Service Public Meeting on Premature Browning of

Ground Beef. May 27, 1998. USDA, Washington, D.C.