Safe Handling and Preparation of Hamburgers
Burgers are an easy and popular food to prepare, especially in the summer. As easy as it is to make a burger, it is just as easy to make a food safety mistake that can make you or your family sick. Raw meat can contain harmful bacteria that can lead to food-borne illness when not handled and prepared properly. Follow these practices to ensure that you, your friends, and family enjoy a safe meal. Use a bag to select and store raw hamburger meat at the grocery store. This prevents your grocery cart, hands, and other groceries from becoming contaminated. Be sure to store raw hamburger meat in the refrigerator below 40°F (4°C), thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator, wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat (use warm water with soap and scrub for at least 20 seconds), cook ground beef to 160°F (71°C), and don’t cross-contaminate by putting cooked burgers back on the same plate that was used to store raw burgers.
- [Andy] Burgers are a popular food that are easy to make for a quick weeknight dinner or a picnic.
As easy as it is to make a burger, it is just as easy to make a food safety mistake which could put your friends, families, and your health at risk.
Preparing a safe meal begins at the grocery store.
When selecting a package of ground beef, use a plastic bag provided at the meat counter to pick up and store your meat.
Meat drippings can contain harmful bacteria and contaminate your hands, other groceries, and your shopping bags.
Tie the bag closed for an extra measure of protection.
When you get home don't make a mistake when storing the ground beef in the refrigerator.
Put it on a low shelf so that if anything does drip from the package it won't contaminate any other food.
If you're thawing meat do it in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
You can also thaw it under cold running water that's 70 degrees or less.
If you're really in a hurry, you could thaw it in the microwave, but you need to cook it right away.
When handling ground beef, don't touch surfaces in your kitchen like cabinet doors or the dishwasher handle.
You also don't want to handle other food or ingredients before you wash your hands.
After you handle raw meat, you've got to wash your hands properly.
Going through the motions doesn't count.
Improper handwashing is one of the biggest mistakes people make when preparing food.
You've got to wet your hands, add soap, and scrub for 20 seconds.
And don't skimp on the scrubbing.
Get between each finger, around your nails, and thumbs.
Rinse off the soap and dry your hands.
A paper towel is best, because a common cloth towel can spread contaminants.
Also, if you keep a drying towel clipped on your oven door handle, as most people do, when you open the oven the towel touches the dirty floor.
It's important to cook ground beef to 160 degrees.
Do not rely on the color of the meat to determine if it's done or not.
The only safe way to determine if meat has been properly cooked is to take the temperature with a calibrated thermometer.
And don't worry, 160 degrees is not overcooked.
Your burger will still be juicy and flavorful.
Do not put cooked burgers back on the same plate that was used to store raw hamburgers.
This will lead to cross-contamination and could make you sick.
The next time you cook a burger, be sure to keep these food safety practices in mind to ensure that you, your friends, and family all enjoy a safe meal.
Frequently Asked Questions