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Is your burger done yet?

You can't determine if a burger is done cooking or not based on the color of the outside, always use a thermometer to make sure your meat is safe to eat.

July 9, 2018 - Author: Jeannie Nichols, Michigan State University Extension

When you are grilling at home or away, always have a food thermometer handy. The exterior and interior color of a cooked burger is not a reliable indicator of doneness. Use a food thermometer to make certain your meat is safe to eat. A food thermometer also helps you to avoid overcooking and ending up with a dry burger. Cook ground meat, like burgers, to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit (F), except for ground poultry, which must be cooked to 165 degrees F.

Instant read thermometers are the most common types of thermometers. There are two kinds of instant read thermometers, bi-metallic stem thermometers and digital thermometers. A bi-metallic stem thermometer has a dial to read the temperature. Digital thermometers are battery powered and need to be turned on.

When checking the temperature of your burgers, insert the stem of your thermometer into the thickest part, usually the center. The stem of a dial instant read thermometer should be inserted into the meat two inches for an accurate reading.  You will need to insert it into the burger at an angle or into the side of your burger. The tip of a digital thermometer senses the temperature of the food and so the tip should be inserted into the center of the food. Digital thermometers work especially well for thin foods like hamburgers.

Michigan State University Extension recommends that you test the accuracy of your food thermometer by following these three steps:

  1. Fill a large container with crushed ice. Add tap water until the container is full. Stir.
  2. Put the thermometer stem into the ice water. Make sure it is inserted about 2 inches for a dial instant read and a half inch for a digital read thermometer. Wait 30 seconds, or until the indicator stops moving on the dial instant read and the numbers quit going up on the digital thermometer. Do not let the stem touch the container.
  3. If you have a bi-metallic stemmed thermometer, turn the dial head so that it reads 32 degrees F. If you have a digital thermometer and it does not read 30 to 34 degrees F it must be thrown away or sent in for adjustment. Thermometers can still be used if they are only two degrees off either way.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that each year roughly one in six Americans, or 48 million people, gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. One effective way to prevent illness is to use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of all meat that you grill or cook.

Tags: food & health, msu extension, safe food & water

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