Rachael Ray’s assumptions on burgers are trendy and wrong

By Gene Hall

The recent comment of celebrity food star Rachael Ray that “organic or grass-fed” burgers do not have to be thoroughly cooked is the latest half-baked and ill-conceived theory from the oven of pop culture.

Agriculture never knows from where the next damaging bit of misinformation will come. We are a celebrity-driven people, and we participate in a feeding frenzy of popular ideas.

I’m a fan of Rachael, but she is wrong here. She may just be innocently repeating some pop culture nonsense. So let’s be clear.

ALL burgers should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees. This is a little beyond pink. Those who eat them pink are assuming some risk of food-borne illness. Organic and grass-fed beef reduces this risk by exactly ZERO.

This is not hyperbole to the point of dishonesty, like pouring ammonia cleaner over beef and pretending it resembles something that actually happens in food processing. Unfortunately, it could be even more dangerous.

Accepting the pop culture assumptions that organic or grass-fed products are always safer or always better is just wrong. There is nothing wrong with either of them. There is, however, no evidence either is safer or better. 

There’s no “get out of the hospital free” card if we fail to prepare ground beef properly. I like my beef grain-fed, and I do not care if it came from a feedlot or not. You may like it grass-fed and organic. If either, however, is ground beef, you and I both need to COOK it.

An honest mistake? I think so. Let’s be careful, though. The pop culture feeding frenzy is not an official stamp of approval.

Here are some safe hamburger guidelines from USDA.

Gene Hall

Public Relations Director
Texas Farm Bureau
I believe that the only hope for a food secure world is capitalism and reasonable profits for America’s farm and ranch families–that the first element of sustainability is economic survival.
Follow Gene on Twitter and Facebook.

6 Responses to “Rachael Ray’s assumptions on burgers are trendy and wrong”

  1. Mae Johns says:

    The thing is, I don’t think this is an honest mistake. If it was, Ms. Ray and her publishers would pull the book, correct all of the mistakes and re-issue it. She has not stated anywhere that her recipes are dangerous when cooked as directed. I think she’s just ignoring everyone telling her that she’s wrong.

  2. Hi, Gene – could you provide a link to Rachel Ray’s original quote? Interested to see what she said/wrote. Many thanks, Peter.

  3. Gene Hall says:

    This piece on meatingplace.com has the direct quote and a link to the episode of The View when the exchange with Whoopi Goldberg took place. Thanks! – Gene

  4. don smith says:

    Folks just need to realize that they are responsible for seeing that their food is properly cooked to prevent illness and less than 160 degrees just is not good for hambuger. As a beef producer I certainly hope consumers get it right or we suffer. Don

  5. Rachael’s mistake could have really hurt someone! She shouldn’t have done it. However, I do think it was on purpose; trying to drive people to organic grass fed beef. I think this is a classic example of people going to extremes rebelling against processed food.

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