- Eating ground meats served rare could lead to food poisoning, as harmful bacteria like E.coli may be present.
- Rare steak is less likely to lead to an E. coli outbreak than a pink burger.
- The USDA recommends cooking ground meat until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F to ensure all pathogens inside have been killed.
What Is a Medium-Rare Burger?
A medium-rare burger is a burger cooked to an internal temperature of 130-135°F . The burger will be dark on the outside but pink inside at this temperature.
This is generally achieved by cooking the burger for approximately 2 1/2 minutes to 3 minutes on each side on high heat.
The result is a juicy and flavorful burger with a pink center that many people enjoy.
It is important to note that medium-rare ground beef differs from a rare burger, which is only cooked to an internal temperature of 120-125°F and has a red center.
Is Eating a Medium-Rare Grilled Burger Safe?
Eating a medium-rare grilled burger is not particularly safe because it carries a higher chance of food poisoning than eating solid cuts such as a rare steak.
This is because ground beef comes from the muscle tissue of multiple parts of the animal.
The ground beef mixture may contain pathogens from the beef’s surface carried inside the lean meat, while single cuts have fewer chances for contamination.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends cooking ground meat to an internal temperature of 160°F to kill any harmful bacteria present .
This includes strains of bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria.
"A great burger is all about the quality of the meat. It should be freshly ground and grilled to perfection."
- Gordon Ramsay, British Chef
These pathogens can cause food poisoning and foodborne illness, leading to fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Pregnant women and those who have weakened immune systems are at higher risk of getting sick from undercooked meat and should avoid burgers that are not fully cooked.
However, cooking beef at a higher temperature can result in a dry and flavorless burger. So, a medium-rare burger is often the preferred level of cooking for many individuals, as it produces a tasty and juicy burger.
How to Enjoy a Burger Safely
If you choose to eat a burger patty, there are several things you can do to minimize the chance of illness.
Here are some tips:
- Buy fresh: Only purchase ground beef from reputable sources to reduce infection risks. Most people find the beef at their local butcher or from an online company to be higher quality than that in the grocery store.
- Cook thoroughly: Use a meat thermometer to ensure your burger reaches an internal temperature of at least 135°F. Let the meat rest for three minutes after grilling.
- Avoid cross-contamination: Keep raw meat separate from ready-to-eat foods such as vegetables or bread. Also, clean your cooking surfaces, utensils, and hands before and after handling raw meat to avoid infection.
- Don't eat undercooked burgers: If the burger is not cooked to your desired level, put it back on the grill and wait until it is done to your liking.
It's also worth noting that, for disease control, many restaurants are required by law not to serve rare or undercooked meat unless specifically requested by the customer.
Is It Illegal to Cook a Medium-Rare Burger?
No, it is not illegal to cook a medium-rare burger. However, it's essential to take food safety precautions when preparing burgers or other dishes containing ground meat. That said, while the USDA recommends cooking ground beef to an internal temperature of 160°F, it is not federal law.
How Do You Tell if a Burger Is Undercooked?
Testing the food with a meat thermometer is the best way to tell if a burger is undercooked. If the burger's internal temperature is below 160˚F, it is considered undercooked beef. Additionally, patties that are still pink in the middle or have an unusually soft texture may show that they are undercooked.
Should You Worry about Medium-Rare Burgers?
Medium-rare burgers carry a small chance of foodborne illness. While some people believe undercooked ground beef is okay, others argue it is unsafe to eat a burger medium-rare. However, there are ways to minimize this danger and safely enjoy these juicy burgers on the grill.
One of the best tips is to buy ground beef only from reliable suppliers. Whether it’s patties, beef cuts, or chicken, a supplier like ButcherBox is worth trying as they provide fresh and wholesome beef delivered directly to my home.
Their cuts are hormone- and antibiotic-free, obtained from animals raised according to the best sustainable practices.