‘It’s got wagyu and pork, so we cook it to medium’; burger illiteracy, Brisbane-style

Amy had some French academics visiting this week, so we went out a couple of times, and I cooked a bunch of seafood and steak.

hamburger.jul.14At the restaurant yesterday, I got a burger for lunch. The server didn’t ask how I wanted it done, so I asked, how would it be cooked.

“It’s got wagyu and pork, so we cook it to medium.”

More bullshit.

I said I wanted it 160F and he was baffled.

Food safety at its finest.

Times once again highlights food porn over safety

Like Stephen Colbert, I am surprised to know the N.Y. Times still exists in print, other than the weekly reminder I get to resubscribe for $0.99.

20100611-sous-vide-burger-12Their food content remains equally suspect.

Sam Sifton spent 1,600 words deconstructing the perfect burger, and never a mention of a thermometer. Here are the nosestrethers, and for those who like their food porn bloody, this article is for you.

“Simply grab a handful of beef and form it into a burger shape, then get it into the pan, season it and cook for about three minutes. Then turn it over and, if using, add cheese. The burger is done three to four minutes later for medium-rare.”

No verificatuion and medium-rare means nothing. All that matters is temperature.

“Better (and safer) to have a butcher grind your meat, asking for a coarse grind so that the ratio of meat to fat is clear to the eye.”

No evidence. It might feel better, but there is no microbiological data to suggest this approach is safer.

“In addition to concerns about the health risks associated with preground hamburger meat, there are culinary considerations as well.”

Food porn.

Hamburgers linked to food poisoning at Senegal uni

Hamburgers appear to be the link to a food poisoning outbreak at Ecole Polytechnique Thies (EFA) in Senegal.

A day after the meal, engineering students began to suffer from severe vomiting accompanied by diarrhea. A large number of students were treated in the infirmary.

And that’s all the info there is (use a thermometer, regardless).

hamburger-safe and unsafe-thumb-450x138-175

Piping hot? 15 now sick with E. coli O157 linked to burgers from Scotland’s Hydro stadium

As the number of cases of E. coli O157 linked to burgers sold at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro stadium rose to 15, the only statement from operators remains, “We wish to assure the hamburger.thermometerpublic that at this time we have no significant concerns in relation to catering for our patrons.”

Maybe instead of hiding behind public health, the food service types at the stadium could provide a public accounting of where their hamburgers are sourced, how they are prepared, whether burgers are occasionally temped to verify standard operating procedures, or do they go with the UK standard of, piping hot?

At least 7 sick with E. coli O157 linked to burgers from Scotland’s Hydro stadium

A health alert has been sparked after thousands of people were potentially exposed to E. coli O157 via burgers sold at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro.

Seven cases of E.coli O157 are being investigated by the Public Health Protection Unit of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), all of which were thought to be contracted e.coli.O157.hydro.scotland.14at the arena.

The cases could being linked to burgers sold at food outlets inside the £125million arena, although other food items are also being considered.

The period of time under investigation – January 17 to 25 – saw the Hydro holding a series of five events by Top Gear, on Friday 17 to Sunday 19.

Also on at the venue in that period was a gig by Del Amitri, on Friday, January 24, and an event as part of the Celtic Connections Festival on Saturday, January 25.

The venue holds up to 12,000, meaning up to 84000 people attended the Hydro in that period.

NHSGGC is liaising with Health Protection Scotland, the Food Standards Agency and Glasgow City Council in its investigation.

How do you know that hamburger is done?

The family along with a friend went to Palm Beach on Friday.

hamburger.done.jan.14Not that Palm Beach, but the one on the Gold Coast (Australia) about an hour away.

After acting like tourists and getting sunburnt, we grabbed some lunch. I usually order what the kid wants, and eat the leftovers, a strategy I learned from having four previous kids.

She wanted a hamburger (right, exactly as shown) so I asked the purveyor at the takeaway, how do you know the hamburger is done?

She said people complain if it’s pink, so they cook it well.

Color is a lousy indicator. Stick it in.

barfblog.Stick It In

Hamburgers at Christmas in Australia

Christmas can be exhausting in Australia. There’s no Thanksgiving, little Halloween, and summer’s here, so everyone’s ready to party.

Match that with two Christmas concerts from different childcare outfits, and the birthday party tomorrow at the park, and I’m not sure how Amy is keeping ihamburger.pool.dec.13t together.

Tonight, to relieve some pressure, we ate at the pool after the swimming lessons, because every Aussie child must swim (and play hockey – the ice kind – but that’s my addition).

I got a burger and fries for me and Amy, and chicken thingies with fries for the kid.

No aioli or mayonnaise.

But I did ask the person who took two frozen patties and fried them up, how do you know when the hamburger is done.

She said she cuts the patty in half and looks at the color.


Color is a lousy indicator of safety, and my burger was not cut – not that it would matter.

Use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer and stick it in. That’s what I’ll be doing at the kid’s birthday party at the barbie in the park tomorrow.

barfblog.Stick It In


Get rid of piping hot advice? UK research call on effectiveness of surface treatment in reducing microbiological contamination

The UK Food Standards Agency says the undercooking of meat products, such as burgers and sausages, continues to be a significant concern, particularly for enforcement officers responsible for assessing the safety of practices used by food businesses. 

Meat products, such as burgers, have been associated with food poisoning and they can pose a risk of illness because of the way they are prepared if they are then ben-newundercooked. For example, with whole pieces of meat, bacterial contamination is usually present on the outer surfaces. Internal (deep muscle) contamination is unlikely unless the meat has been pierced. External contamination can become spread throughout the meat during mincing, such as in the preparation of burgers, kebabs, sausages and other products.

There are indications that consumers and caterers are showing a preference for serving burgers undercooked and in a variety of settings. Local authority enforcement officers are concerned about the risk posed by such practices. A number of bacterial hazards may be associated with meat of which verocytotoxin-producing E.coli and salmonella are considered to be the most important.

The aim of the project is to examine whether treating the external surfaces of different cuts of beef, lamb and venison with heat and/or organic acids is effective in reducing microbiological contamination. This would be both before and after these meats are made into comminuted (a process that breaks up the meat into smaller pieces) products such as burgers.

The work should include:

• a range of meat cuts from beef, lamb and venison, focusing on those cuts that would typically be used for the production of burgers;

• examining naturally contaminated meat, as well as samples spiked with pathogens, and include a range of heat and/or organic acid treatments; and,

• assessments both before and after the preparation of the meat into a range of comminuted products such as burgers, steak tartar, kebabs and sausages which may be served raw or lightly cooked.

6 sick: federal health types publicly absent in Canadian E. coli burger outbreak

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced late Wednesday night that certain Compliments brand Super 8 Beef Burgers were being recalled because they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

They said people were sick but wouldn’t say how many; that’s up to either the e.coli.O157.belmont.oct.13Public Health Agency of Canada or Health Canada (who knows the difference).

The silence has been deafening.

However, a spokesman for Ontario’s health ministry told the Weyburn Review there have been six confirmed cases of illness in that province associated with the beef in question. Of the six people, four were hospitalized; of the four, one is still in hospital. All are recovering, the ministry said.

Use thermometers says health reporter nearly killed by food poisoning

Serena Gordon of HealthDay says food thermometers are now standard in her home after a brush with shiga-toxin producing E. coli nearly killed her. Story below:

As a health reporter, I’d heard plenty of stories about food contamination and had taken steps to make sure my family’s food was as safe as it could be. If I saw friends eating undercooked ground beef, I’d gently chide them about the possible dangers of barfblog.Stick It Ineating food that wasn’t prepared properly. Friends dubbed me the “food police.”

Contracting a foodborne illness was not something you’d expect would happen to me.

Nonetheless, three days after a barbecue with friends at my house, I woke up feeling sicker than I’d ever felt.

I had terrible heartburn and abdominal pain. I had cold sweats and a strange pain in my left arm, along with a feeling that something was terribly wrong. Then, the diarrhea started. Within an hour, I’d had more than 10 bowel movements. I couldn’t shake an incredible feeling of dread.

Then I began vomiting, forcefully and repeatedly. I felt myself quickly becoming disoriented. I managed to make it back to bed and, before I passed out, mumbled “9-1-1″ to my husband.

At the hospital, blood tests showed that my kidneys and liver had shut down, and I was immediately admitted to the intensive care unit.

I knew I was dying. No one said so, but I could feel it. Later, my doctor told me that I had only a 15 percent chance of surviving that first night.

The diagnosis: two disorders caused by an infection with E. coli — hemolytic uremic syndrome and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. In addition to kidney and liver failure, my red blood cells were now forming small clots and blocking small blood vessels. This caused bruises to form all over my body. My entire right arm was black and blue, as was half of my left arm, from where they tried to take blood from me.

The pain was excruciating. And, because my kidneys weren’t working, I was swollen almost beyond recognition. When they weighed me in the ICU, I had gained more than 20 pounds in fluid in three days. My fingers, which were so filled with fluid that they couldn’t bend, felt like they might just pop like a balloon.

My treatment included kidney dialysis and plasmapheresis, a procedure that removes blood from your body and separates the plasma from the blood. Then the rest of the blood is mixed with donated plasma and returned to the body. Though normally a cream color, the plasma removed from my body was black, apparently because of all the dead red blood cells. For almost two weeks, I spent four to eight hours a day hooked up to blood-sucking machines. I also received blood transfusions.

Eventually, though, the treatments worked. My blood cells started behaving normally, and my kidneys started functioning again. After nine days in the ICU and another 10 days in the hospital, I went home.

Recovery was a long and slow process. It took several months before most of my blood work came back normal. I saw countless doctors for lingering problems, which included a painful, reactive arthritis (a type of arthritis that can develop after a bad infection) and nerve damage from where the dialysis shunt had been placed. The arthritis persisted for about a year, but I did not need long-term kidney dialysis, and my health in time returned to normal — though no one can say definitively that I won’t have trouble down the road. I was grateful to have survived.

So how did all this happen to someone who’d been so careful to make sure that burgers were always well-cooked, with no pink meat. A doctor who specializes in infectious diseases explained that, even though the meat was gray and looked cooked, there must have been an area of the meat that hadn’t reached a high enough temperature to kill the bacteria.

At the time, food safety experts weren’t stressing the need to take the temperature of food to ensure that it’s cooked well. That’s changed. So have my precautions.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I now own several well-used food thermometers. And hamburgers at my house are now always cooked to 160 degrees at the thickest part of the meat.

hamburger-safe and unsafe-thumb-450x138-175