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Amida0616

Rare Hamburgers Illegal?

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I recently moved to greenville SC, and i ordered a rare hamburger and i was told that anything below medium-well is against the law. Is this true? if so why?

Amida0616

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I've run into this excuse in several restaurants around the United States, and also in Canada and the UK. It has never been clear to me that it is actually illegal, as in against the law, to serve rare or even raw beef. It may be, but I haven't yet seen the text of any actual legislation or regulation on that point. However, there are surely health advisories put out by various federal and state government bodies, so I can certainly see why many establishments would interpret that as a legal requirement or at least be concerned about liability and would therefore require a certain doneness as a matter of company policy. Between the litigiousness of consumers, the alarmist information put out by governments about rare beef, the lack of care with which many establishments and companies purchase beef and the lack of any significant demand for rare beef, why bother?


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm fairly sure that having to cook hamburger at least to medium tends to be a local ordinance set forth by local health departments. I know in most of Bergen County NJ that its the case. I recall Fink explaining it to me at least once.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I have asked a member who owns Liberty 33 in Greenville, The Cynical Chef, to give us a definitive answer. If anyone knows, it would most definitely be John Malik! :wink:

Welcome to eGullet, Amida0616! :biggrin:


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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In Canada we recieve bulletins from our Health Departments (departments of INSPECTORS who can CLOSE US DOWN !) and the wording is not less than DO NOT. If we had ever recieved a 'we advise against' I'd have been serving rare and medium rare as we do get more than a handful of requests.

Perhaps the club dining room continues to attract meat eating thrill-seekers ! (I like it rare myself)

Now cooking in B.C. and our concession burgers are served well done here also.

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From Philadelphia Department of Public Health's regulations governing food service establishments:

"Hamburger patties and other ground meat products shall be heated to ensure that all parts of the product are heated to 155ºF (68.3ºC)."

As Jason observed, such regulations tend to be within the purview of municipal or county governments, not state or national. And it is generally addressed through administrative regulations, not legislated ordinances or law.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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plus alot of the chains use frozen beef patties. hmmm,,,nice rare frozen burger. eeeeeeeek!

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Hubby makes a habit of asking for rare burgers and then gets into a hassle with the wait staff - as if it were their fault! I keep telling him to give up - have rare burgers at home and order something else out - no go - he feels his right to e. coli is written into our Bill of Rights! :wacko:


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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The place in question was actually an Outback Steakhouse (I have gotten rare burgers there in michigan). In fact the reason i was there was to visit my friends fiancee who works there. I even asked her to see if she could pull some strings in the kitchen and she said no its against the law. Does this mean no steak tartare or kibbee nayee as well?? Hopefully Mr. Malik can shead some light on the subject.

Also thank you for the welcome Gifted Gourmet!!

Amida0616

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Does this mean no steak tartare or kibbee nayee as well?? Hopefully Mr. Malik can shead some light on the subject.

He certainly is aware and works within the rules of the state of South Carolina in his own restaurant ... he will have the most recent answer ...


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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According to the state of North Carolina

ground beef and foods containing ground beef shall be cooked to an internal temperature of at

least 155° F (68° C), and (4) roast beef shall be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 130° F (54° C), and beef steak shall be cooked to a temperature of 130° F (54° C) unless otherwise ordered by the

immediate consumer.

I know there are ways around this only because there are a few restaurants in town that will ask you how you want your burger prepared. I think some restaurants buy sirloin and grind their own beef, thus a loophole.

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And here are the SC regulations

Cooking potentially hazardous food.

Potentially hazardous food requiring cooking shall be cooked to heat all parts of the food to a temperature of at least 145°F. (63°C.), except

that:

a. Poultry, poultry stuffings, stuffed meats, stuffed pasta, and stuffings containing meat shall be cooked to heat all parts of the food to at

least 165°F. (74°C.) with no interruption of the cooking process.

b. Ground beef and any food containing ground beef shall be cooked to heat all parts of the food to at least 155°F. (68°C.).

c. Pork and any food containing pork, game animals, and comminuted fish and meat shall be cooked to heat all parts of the food to at least

155°F. (68°C.).

d. Roast beef shall be cooked to a surface temperature of at least 155°F. (68°C.).

e. Beef steak shall be cooked to a surface temperature of 155°F. (68°C.) unless otherwise ordered by the immediate consumer.

f. Raw animal products cooked in a microwave oven shall be rotated during cooking to compensate for uneven heat distribution.

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I have been told that some insurance companies, fearing lawsuits, also stipulate that restaurants cook grond beef to medium doneness.

At least NC has the common sense to add "unless otherwise ordered by the immediate customer," though it does lead one to wonder what makes a customer "immediate."


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

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I'm fairly sure that having to cook hamburger at least to medium tends to be a local ordinance set forth by local health departments. I know in most of Bergen County NJ that its the case. I recall Fink explaining it to me at least once.

Can you get yook hwe in Bergen County? Does the ordinance there apply to ground meat only?


Michael aka "Pan

 

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We ran into this about four years ago in Santa Fe, NM. We asked for our burgers rare and were told the best they could do was medium - its the law! These were't frozen patties but they ended up being too dry for our tastes. We cook our burgers at home now. The chef will always cook them exactly as you like them. :smile:


KathyM

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I was in an airport Chilis in Atlanta.. I asked for a medium rare burger and was told they only do medium well or well done.. The thing had potential for being decent if they would have cooked it medium rare..

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I was in an airport Chilis in Atlanta.. I asked for a medium rare burger and was told they only do medium well or well done.. The thing had potential for being decent if they would have cooked it medium rare..

That's an exception in Atlanta. MOST places cook burgers to the consumers desired temp.

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How do restaurants get away with serving steak tartare then?

The potential for contamination is on the outside of the meat. The insides are sterile.

If you get a steak or other chuck of beef and clean it, you don't have a problem. Thus you can slice and eat. Or, cook the outside to high temps and leave the inside either cold or barely warm and, still, no problem. You could even hand grind it and have no problem.

The BIG problem is when you have a large industrial operation and you don't meticulously clean the chunks of beef before you grind. None of those operations can, without fail, clean all that meat and quite a few use "beef recovery methods" that are best left to another post.

Given that mutant e. coli contamination is rare (let's say one in a thousand), then there's very little risk in taking a chuck of beef and grinding it. However, if you routinely take thousands of chunks of beef and grind them all together, or at least with the same equipment, - like the major processors do - then you have a significant chance of contamination to all of your product.

As much as I LOVE rare hamburgers, I really don't want one from a restaurant where they buy from one or more of the mega producers. Only your small place, where they can grind their own, can safely serve rare burgers.

The best solution is buy and clean your own beef and grind or chop it yourself and grill to your personal specs.

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I was in an airport Chilis in Atlanta.. I asked for a medium rare burger and was told they only do medium well or well done.. The thing had potential for being decent if they would have cooked it medium rare..

This happened to me in the twin cities...I was really hungover from a cousin's wedding, eating with some other cousins, and I was DISPLEASED.

I managed to stay in control, however.


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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I've run into this excuse in several restaurants around the United States, and also in Canada and the UK. It has never been clear to me that it is actually illegal, as in against the law, to serve rare or even raw beef. It may be, but I haven't yet seen the text of any actual legislation or regulation on that point.

Here's the text from section(s) 33 (7) & (8 - just to show what they want us to do to fish!) from the Food Premises Reg of the Health Protection & Promotion Act here in Ontario:

(7) The following shall be cooked to reach an internal temperature of at least 71 degrees Celsius for at least 15 seconds:

1. Pork.

2. Pork products.

3. All parts of ground meat, other than ground meat that contains poultry. O. Reg. 74/04, s. 1.

(8) Fish shall be cooked to reach an internal temperature of at least 70 degrees Celsius for at least 15 seconds. O. Reg. 74/04, s. 1.

71 degrees celsius is @ 160 fahrenheit. A bit above rare. Or medium rare. A recipe for a godawful hamburger. And also dry, dry fish (wasn't aware of that one before just now, although we do allow a one degree respite from what our overcooked pork requires). Other sections of the reg allow raw fish (thank you to John Allemang and egulleter Malcolm Jolley for their part in not requiring our sushi to be pre-frozen), and poultry gets its own section - 74 degrees celsius I think (yup, s. 33 (6)).

So, yes Steven, 'tis the law here re: ground beef. Carpaccio is still safe. The degree to which the law is adhered to is another matter. But, I suspect the adherence is fairly high - I've asked for rare or medium rare burgers and been told no can do on several occassions. Fear of the resto inspection people is probably quite high in most places I would think (the results here in Toronto are publicly available, so you don't just get a slap on the wrist, the whole town knows about it).

Cheers,

Geoff Ruby

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My father, who lives in SC, once ordered his burger, "as rare as you can make it." I didn't understand until he explained about the law. This was afew years ago and things may have changed.

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The best solution is buy and clean your own beef and grind or chop it yourself and grill to your personal specs.

When you say clean do you mean wash with water? Are you also saying that most any cut of beef can be cleaned and eaten raw without risk? What about the fat? I ask because I love rare beef and tartare, but am always asked about the safety of it, and all I can say is, I eat it and I am fine.

Do the parasites rest on the surface? Is this the same for fish? This all gets into another subject, so if this post needs to be moved I understand.

Nate

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Regulations such as the one mentioned are set forth by State Health departments. In SC we have had to serve our ground beef at least medium well for perhaps 10 years or so. Remember the Jack in the Box deaths in California? Those kids were killed by e coli contamination that survived in hamburger that was served at essentially medium rare. Many states passed hamburger regualtions after that and SC was one of them. All of those food safety labels that we now see on different proteins are the direct result of regulations passed following the Jack in the box deaths. Cast Iron Chef makes the right distinctions. There are cattle slaughtering facilities in the mid West that are capable of grinding hundreds of thousands of pounds of beef a DAY! E coli is a bacteria found in the intestines of cattle and there is always the possibility that intestinal matter will get splattered when a big animal is being butchered by poorly paid & quickly trained meat cutters. That's why you should always cook your store bought ground beef to medium well.

Time to buy a meat grinder if you want a med rare burger.


John Malik

Chef/Owner

33 Liberty Restaurant

Greenville, SC

www.33liberty.com

Customer at the carving station: "Pardon me but is that roast beef rare?"

Apprentice Cook Malik: "No sir! There's plenty more in the kitchen!"

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