So at the dinner table today my grandpa asks me what I am still doing in school and what this research stuff I’m doing is. Can of worms opened after I explained that I am focusing on meat science and food safety. My uncle yells “food safety?!?” The conversation that followed was the best part.
We started talking about how we, the consumer, abuse our food after we purchase it. We leave items like meat in the car while we run other errands, allowing the temperature of the meat to rise. We also talked about using a thermometer to determine doneness of meat. We all give my grandmother a hard time because she believes that you have to cook any meat until it is black and dry. She is a good sport about it but she did have questions for me. “So if I can’t use color, how do I know it’s done?” The answer use a thermometer. WalMart, Target, etc., they all have a variety of thermometers to choose from. Stick the thermometer in the thickest, most center part of the meat and read it. “Ok,” grandma says, “So do I cook steak and hamburgers to the same temperature?” No…hamburger should be cooked to 160 degrees because there is no sterile center. “What?” A steak is sterile on the inside because it is still inside. The only part of the steak pathogens can be is on the surface but in hamburger there is no surface or interior, it was ground so effectively it is all the surface.
Make sense? Cook steak to at least 145 degrees (rare region) and ground meat to at least 160 degrees. Use a thermometer!