Leaving the burger too pink will not only make it less palatable and tasty but can also cause mild to severe foodborne illness or poisoning.
But how to tell whether the burger is too pink for consumption?
The quickest answer is to never rely on the color alone to determine the doneness of ground meat or any type of meat.
While it will give you an idea of how well the meat is cooked, color is not a reliable indicator of the meat’s doneness or safety.
There are many explanations for this. In some cases and types of cooking, the burger or other meat can start browning before it has reached the safe temperature.
It is always advisable to use a meat thermometer with a temperature probe instead. There are clear safety guidelines for the correct minimum cooking and meat temperatures provided by the USDA, which you should follow. These are the temperatures in the middle of the burger, meat cut, or other.
So, it is advisable to get a meat thermometer that you can use when grilling burgers and cooking all types of meats and foods.
But you may be wondering, how come steak can be consumed medium rare, rare, and even blue, and burgers can’t?
The answer is that any harmful bacteria can affect only the surface of a steak or other whole meat cut. When the beef or other meat is minced, the bacteria from the surface will easily reach the middle of the burger patty and remain alive there if not cooked enough.
This applies to any type of meat that is ground, even of the highest quality cuts.
In high-end, reputable restaurants, where all safety good practices are followed strictly, you may order rare or pink burgers. Still, at home, the risk of bacterial infection and foodborne illness is too significant to take.
Apart from using the thermometer to check the burger’s doneness, you can also check whether the juices from the ground meat run clear and whether it is steaming hot right to the center. Most importantly, you should make sure that there is no pink at all when the patty is sliced in half.
The guidelines by the FDA for the minimal temperature of ground beef are 155 degrees Fahrenheit. The probe should be inserted in the middle of the patty. Or insert it in its thickest part where the heat from the grill reaches last.
Answering The Burning Question: How Long Does Ground Beef Last
Once the thermometer shows 155 degrees F, make sure to cook the burger at this temperature for about 15 seconds. Then you can safely eat it or serve it to your family or friends.
Some other tips for minimizing the risk of food poisoning when cooking or grilling include:
- Always keep raw meat safely away from cooked meat or other cooked ingredients
- Keep the raw meat well covered and on a separate shelf in the fridge
- When prepping the meat and grilling it, make sure to use separate knives, cutting boards, grill tongs, and other utensils for the raw meat and for the burgers or other meat which has been cooked already
- Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat
- As a whole, the best way to guarantee that the burgers you have grilled are cooked properly and are safe to eat is by using a thermometer rather than relying on color or other observations.
Also, check our Complete Guide to Grilling Frozen Burgers