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.