At Safe Food Training, we like to stay connected to the local food industry, and during our visits to several restaurants we’ve noticed an alarming trend. Many restaurants are serving raw and undercooked animal products, but may not be doing so safely. This week, we’ll begin a series of articles aimed at helping you deal with raw and undercooked animal proteins.
The Medium-Rare Cheeseburger Dilemma
On more than one occasion we’ve ordered a cheeseburger and have been asked whether we would like our burger cooked “with a little pink or with no pink.” The first issue we’d like to deal with is what temperature pink actually is. Pink is not a temperature. It is in fact just a color. There can be many factors that change the internal color of your beef patty, and the only accurate way to find the internal temperature of a burger is to use a probe thermometer. If you’ve taken your food safety certification MN courses, you know that a beef patty must hold an internal temperature of 150 degrees for one minute or 145 degrees for 3 minutes to be considered done.
We are often asked if it is legal to serve a cheeseburger that is not cooked according to Minnesota Food Code requirements. According to the current regulations it is acceptable to serve raw or undercooked animal product if:
- A customer requests it
- The menu clearly states that the product is undercooked
- An asterisk next to the menu items directs the consumer to a footnote stating the dangers of consuming undercooked animal product
Some of the language in the regulations can be confusing. Since we are specifically discussing undercooked burgers, we’d like explain how to deal with ground beef patties. If you’re comfortable with honoring a consumers request to serve an undercooked cheeseburger, then you legally may do so. To make sure that you are in full compliance with the law, include the asterisk and warning of the dangers of consuming raw or undercooked beef next to every burger item on your menu. We strongly suggest that you do not offer a medium-rare or undercooked burger on your menu. In fact, we’d suggest that your servers do not even ask if your guests would like their burger served with a “little pink.”
If you are uncomfortable with serving an undercooked burger, simply explain to a guest that you cannot honor a guest’s request because your establishment adheres to the Minnesota Food Code standards.
Next week, we’ll continue our series on raw and undercooked animal products as we discuss the proper procedures for serving raw and undercooked seafood.