The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline reminds consumers preparing ground beef products to heed the following advice:
- Consumers should only eat ground beef patties that have been cooked to a safe temperature of 160 degrees F. When a ground beef patty is cooked to 160 degrees F throughout, it can be safe and juicy, regardless of color.
- The only way to be sure a ground beef patty is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use an accurate food thermometer.
- Color is not a reliable indicator that ground beef patties have been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7.
- Eating a pink or red ground beef patty without first verifying that the safe temperature of 160 degrees F has been reached is a significant risk factor for foodborne illness.
- Thermometer use to ensure proper cooking temperature is especially important for those who cook or serve ground beef patties to people most at risk for foodborne illness because E. coli O157:H7 can lead to serious illness or even death. Those most at risk include young children, seniors, and those with compromised immune systems.