National Hamburger Day – Food Safety

National Hamburger Day is observed each year on May 28. This day celebrates a summer-time grilling favorite and National Hamburger Day is part of National Hamburger Month. Use #NationalHamburgerDay to post on social media.

When cooking a hamburger, make sure you handle the meat safely. Keep the meat cold until you cook it and keep work surfaces clean. Always wash your hands before and after handling the ground beef.

According to the USDA, the minimum safe temperature for ground meat is 160° F (71° C), or well done. For ground turkey or chicken, the minimum safe temperature is a little higher, at 165° F (74° C). It typically takes from 10 to 15 minutes to reach either temperature, depending on the thickness or size of the hamburgers.

It is particularly important to cook ground meat to a safe temperature for children or the elderly. They are the most likely to be seriously affected by a foodborne illness.

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What’s the difference between “hamburger” and “ground beef”?
Beef fat may be added to “hamburger,” but not “ground beef.” A maximum of 30% fat is allowed in either hamburger or ground beef. Both hamburger and ground beef can have seasonings, but no water, phosphates, extenders, or binders added. The labeling of meat food products must comply with the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and the meat inspection regulations and labeling policies.

Most states and cities set standards for store-packaged ground beef which, by law, cannot be less than Federal standards. If products in retail stores were found to contain more than 30% fat, they would be considered “misbranded” under Federal law.

What kind of bacteria can be in ground beef?
Bacteria are everywhere in our environment; virtually any food can harbor bacteria. In foods of animal origin, pathogenic (illness-causing) bacteria, such as Salmonella, Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STECs), Campylobacter jejuni, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus, cause illness. These harmful bacteria cannot be seen or smelled.

If the pathogens are present when meat is ground, then more of the meat surface is exposed to the harmful bacteria. Also, grinding allows any bacteria present on the surface to be mixed throughout the meat. Bacteria multiply rapidly in the “Danger Zone” — temperatures between 40 and 140 °F (4.4 and 60 °C). To keep bacterial levels low, store ground beef at 40 °F (4.4 °C) or below and use within 2 days, or freeze. To destroy harmful bacteria, cook ground beef to a safe minimum internal temperature of 160 °F (71.1 °C).

Other bacteria cause spoilage. Spoilage bacteria generally are not harmful, but they will cause food to deteriorate or lose quality by developing a bad odor or feeling sticky on the outside.

Grilling Like a PRO

Summer is finally here! While grilling outside with our friends and family can be fun, but it can also lead to food poisoning. #GrillingLikeaPRO

This summer, Americans everywhere should be reminded that “Grilling Like a PRO” is the safest and easiest way to grill. You can’t see harmful bacteria on your burgers, chicken, and steak—using a food thermometer is the only way to know that your food is safe to eat. The PRO method is an easy way to protect you and your family from foodborne illness.

P—Place the Thermometer!

When you think your food is cooked, check the internal temperature by inserting the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat (usually about 1.5 to 2 inches deep). If you are cooking a thinner piece of meat, like chicken breasts or hamburger patties, insert the thermometer from the side. Make sure that the probe reaches the center of the meat.

R—Read the Temperature!

  • Wait about 10 to 20 seconds for an accurate temperature reading. Use the following safe internal temperature guidelines for your meat and poultry.
  • Beef, Pork, Lamb, & Veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145 °F with a 3 minute rest time. Ground meats: 160 °F
  • Whole poultry, poultry breasts, & ground poultry: 165 °F

O—Off the Grill!

Once the meat and poultry reach their safe minimum internal temperatures, take the food off the grill and place it on a clean platter. Don’t put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry. Also remember to clean your food thermometer probe with hot, soapy water or disposable wipes.

When you and your family and friends are grilling outside this summer, upload a photo of your PRO food thermometer skills with the hashtag, #GrillingLikeaPRO.

Let’s spread the word about using a food thermometer and declare our freedom from foodborne illness!

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