National Burger Day... cook it safe!

National Burger Day is a great excuse to head out for dinner, or to fire up the braai - after all, what's not to like about a fat, juicy burger? The only drawback - the high risk of food poisoning if not cooked properly!


Why are hamburgers a food safety risk? 

All meat carries risk, due to the bacterial contamination that can occur on the outside surface. However, when you cook a steak for example, the bacteria which may be present on the exterior of the meat comes into direct contact with the heat source, and the bacteria are killed. The inside of the meat has never been exposed to contamination (unless the meat has been tenderised, in which case bacteria could have been introduced).


Due to the nature of it's consistency, minced beef (or ground beef) has a greater surface area which is exposed to contamination. When this ground meat is formed into a hamburger patty, every morsel of meat could potentially be carrying bacteria.

Raw Burgers - Cook them safe

So if this burger is not cooked all the way through, to the recommended temperature, you could still find E.coli or Salmonella active in the raw centre of the patty. The handling process involved in grinding the beef also adds risk, as food handlers and equipment are another potential source of contamination.


How do I know if my burger is safe to eat 

Quite simply, the best way to ensure the burger is safe is to make sure it is cooked properly!  This means there should be no pink visible in the middle of the patty, and juices should run clear.  But don't rely on the colour alone - always use a meat thermometer to test the core temperature of the burger


Recommended cooking temperatures:

Beef burgers:
cook to a core temperature of 72oC


Chicken burgers:
cook to a core temperature of 74oC



Happy National Burger Day, let's be smart and safe, and cook those burgers properly. Even if you're dining in a restaurant, make sure to specify the same!

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