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What would you do if a restaurant wouldnt cook your Burger to Order?

I was at a restaurant on Saturday with my wife, and daughter, and really was in the mood for a juicy hamburger cooked rare. We ordered some drinks, and some potato skins, and looked further on the menu. I was about to decide on a hamburger, but then saw in bold print " we will only cook hamburgers medium, medium well, or well done NO EXCEPTIONS". Well that blew my plan for a juicy burger since none of the ways they were willing to cook the hamburger would yield a tasty, much less flavorfull burger. I joked with the waiter asking if they were serious about the no exceptions policy, and he said yes. Well, we finished our drinks, and potato skins, and requested the check from the perplexed waiter, payed our tab(tipped 20% its not the servers fault he works for a bonehead establishment), and left. Actually ended up at a Mexican place for some carne asda, and chile relleno.

Is a restaurant refusing to cook a burger how I want it as unacceptable to others as it is to me? Would you go somewhere else? Or would you eat the overcooked meat?

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  1. Perhaps they have to cook their burgers medium+ for health reasons (like their burgers aren't springtime fresh)?

    If they aren't willing to cook the burger to my liking, I'd order something else...going somewhere else, finding parking & possibly waiting to get a table is a likely scenario here in Southern CA, so itI'd stay & order something else.

    1 Reply
    1. re: OCAnn

      maybe it could be a warning sign to order something else on the menu I guess. I could see that.

    2. It is a legal liability issue. If you don't like it, do as you did, and eat elsewhere.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Firegoat

        thats too bad, lawyers winning out over good taste.. ;-)

        No big deal, lots of places that will serve a burger cooked as I want, and that place lost me as a customer forever, perhaps they will see the error of their ways someday. :-)

        1. re: swsidejim

          Well I don't think it is necessarily lawyers winning out over good taste, it is a risk assessment done by each restaurant. If they are damn sure of their source and grind it fresh, odds are they won't balk to cook it your way. If they aren't, well, that's just good business on their part.

          1. re: Firegoat

            its all good, just kid of silly that a restaurant wouldnt source a product that they can serve safely.

            Like you said, I was free to move on which I did, I was just curious if others would leave, or stay, and try to eat what was offered, or order something else on the menu.

            1. re: swsidejim

              It's quite possible they're sourcing a product (ground beef) that has been through countless hands before ending up with their provider. Unless they grind it themselves, they really have no idea how the meat was protected in its travels to get their provider before it's delivered to the restaurant.

              As to your original question, I probably wouldn't leave, unless I *really* wanted a burger my way. I'd just find something else on the menu to order.

            2. re: Firegoat

              Well, there are places where the local health authorities (like here in Toronto) stipulate that ground meat has to be cooked to 170 degrees, which rules out a medium rare burger. Not every restaurant obeys the rule, but it's on the books, and if someone ever got sick from e.Coli, there'd probably be a lawsuit.

              Isn't it nice that we're protected from ourselves?

              1. re: KevinB

                170F would be beyond well done, so it's not just medium rare that you can't get.

          2. I could be making an assumption here, but based on the menu items you mentioned, I’m guessing that they don’t grind their own hamburger. And if they don’t grind their own hamburger, you should only order it medium or burned.

            There are many, many strains of e-coli and not all of them are as benign as simple intestinal discomfort.

            You did exactly as you should have – they didn’t offer what you wanted so you walked. Thank you for not giving the server any grief.

            7 Replies
            1. re: sebetti

              like I said, not the servers fault. it was a local bar and grill type place, so I have no idea where they source their food.

              1. re: sebetti

                As a realistic risk assessment, your chances of getting in an accident driving to another restaurant are much higher than getting something nasty from a rare burger. I agree with Linda -- I'd probably stay but order something else. Ordering a well-done burger is not an option.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  they offered it "medium" -- but hey, now you know they don't do burgers your way. their choice not to, your choice to go elsewhere. no harm, no foul.

                2. re: sebetti

                  As an aside but totally related - my bf and I ended up sitting next to Hilary Swank and her friend this summer on a patio of a modest brew-pub in Toronto and listened to her berate her server for nearly 10 minutes because the place was unable to cook her a rare burger.
                  She ended up eating nachos.

                  1. re: estestest

                    "listened to [swank] berate her server for nearly 10 minutes"

                    ---- oh, that had to be pleasant for everyone around -- esp. the poor server. i wonder why the manager never intervened.

                    1. re: estestest

                      Hilary Swank is a vegetarian; has been since age 14. Perhaps a case of mistaken identity.

                      1. re: kmcarr

                        Maybe it was Jennifer Garner. They both look the same to me at least.

                  2. Here in SC there is a law that states, if I understand it correctly, if a restaurant grinds its own meat you may have your burger cooked to order. If they don't, well you are out-of-luck. Is it possible there is a similar city/county/state law where you live?

                    As to your questions, I think it is unacceptable that I cannot get my burger cooked the way I want it. However that does beg the question, do I want a burger from a place that does not grind their own meat? Since rare is a far cry from med-well, I would not have ordered the burger...it wouldn't have been satisfying. I probably would have found something else on the menu I could live with, and I would have made a mental note for next time.

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: lizzy

                      I am not sure of local laws regarding this practice in Illinois, although I have seen it on other menus.

                      I guess this "dilemma" isnt as cut and dry as I thought, with the beef being ground on site or not issue. I typically have an iron gut, and as a kid we would eat small balls of raw ground beef with just some salt and garlic powder as my dad was making hamburger patties to cook.

                      The menu was pretty sparse for their lunchtime offerings, so we decided to move on... we went to a Mexican spot instead(where I got my carne asada cooked rare).

                      1. re: swsidejim

                        I don't know what the laws in Illinois are either. I grew up there, and my family still lives in the Chicago area. Frankly, I never even gave getting a burger cooked to order a second thought until I moved here and I was told I could only have MW or W.

                        Until I got food poisoning a couple of years ago, like you I had an iron clad stomach. I also grew up eating raw beef before the hamburgers went on the grill.

                        1. re: swsidejim

                          Unfortunately there are some bacterial strains/species that having an 'iron gut' just can't protect you from. For instance humans will always be made sick by exposure to Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella spp. In the case of hamburgers the concern is a particular strain of E. coli known as entero-haemorrhagic e. coli (EHEC) 0157:H7 this particular strain was identified during the 70's during an outbreak that was traced back to undercooked hamburgers. EHEC, particularly in the very old and young, can have potentially fatal consequences this along with the fact that it causes severe gastroenteritis is why undercooked hamburger meat should not be served in restaurants - unless the hamburger meat is prepared from good cuts prior to cooking, much like a steak.

                        2. re: lizzy

                          I remember talking to one friend about how her restaurant wouldn't serve burgers anything less than medium well because the meat quality of sourced ground beef was unreliable and they weren't allowed unless it was of a certain quality (probably ground within the restaurant). It's definitely a safety issue and when given the choice, I would just not order the burger. I would not necessarily leave the restaurant. You can only expect so much unless it's in the high price range.

                          1. re: lizzy

                            jfood spent 4 days in Pinehurst NC a few years ago playing golf and being stupid. They also had that rule.

                            Amazing how a few pictures of their least favorite president Abe Lincoln taught them the correct way to cook and serve a burger.

                            1. re: jfood

                              Now, now jfood. Many of us North Carolinians have a great fondness for the non-paper Abe!

                              But yes, NC is also a state with health code issues. The meat must be ground on the premises to cook it rare or med. rare.

                              So I have a great many places that I just don't order burgers from...

                              1. re: meatn3

                                Actually there was a recent article in a local paper that included the head of the health dept saying that whether the beef was ground onsite or not was 'immaterial' and that you couldn't serve ground beef in NC that hadn't been heated to 165 F all the way through [and ruined].

                                Not that it stopped us at my last gig.

                                1. re: avad

                                  If you have access to a link I'd like to read it. I had not heard this. I had med. rare burgers (actually slightly rarer) earlier this month in Cary, NC. with no mention of this. This will be very frustrating...I can cook the burger at home, but I enjoy it with good onion rings or fries, neither of which I am proficient at cooking and really don't want to make them at home. Well the Va. state line is 1.5 hours away....maybe I can get a burger there!

                                  1. re: meatn3

                                    come on up to virginia! we've got goooood burgers here. ;-P

                                    1. re: meatn3


                                      ^^^ Looks like I misremembered the temp

                                      Ya know, I wouldn't recommend cooking a burger to sub-medium with ground beef that I picked up from the cold case at the grocer. At the very least pick a good fresh cut and have them grind it for you while you're there.

                                      1. re: avad

                                        Thanks for the link!

                                        I agree on the grind suggestion...I have a grinder attachment for my KA, so it will get an extra workout!

                                        1. re: meatn3

                                          Mostly due to my taste preferences, I always pick out a sirloin and have that twice-ground, for burgers in my home. As these are usually VERY lean, I do cook the bacon above the patties, on the grill, to get the flareups and also drip a bit of bacon fat onto the patties.

                                          Since I like my burgers with slightly warm-pink on the inside (thick burgers), I can do them to my taste.

                                          Even with "American Kobe" patties, I have yet to get the flavor, texture and leaness, that I like. I have not done pre-ground in years, just because I do not like it, even with higher grades of beef. I pick, they grind, they grind, and then I do my thing.

                                          Though it might be a lot of "caution," and a tad bit of paranoia (plus local laws), but if the restaurant is not comfortable serving my burger (whatever), the way I want it, I can take the hint - order something else, or head elsewhere. Maybe I have seen too many episodes of "Kitchen Nightmares... " Maybe the kitchen knows something that we do not.


                                2. re: jfood

                                  Talk about leaving out the important points! What did you shoot, and exactly how were you stupid?!

                              2. The only times I have ever seen any such notice on a menu is when it was required by the local health department and/or state law. That is always my first thought when I see such a policy. It doens't mean, of course, that you must stay and eat there. Leaving is prefectly reasonable if that's your choice.

                                As a side note, wasn't the carne asada pretty thoroughly cooked through?

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: ccbweb

                                  In my experience, a lot of places who are required to have that statement on their menu will ignore it in practice. And I've had medium rare carne asada when it's ordered on its own rather than as a filling for a taco or burrito.

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    I agree that many places will ignore it in practice.

                                    1. re: ccbweb

                                      But do you really want to eat in a place that iswilling to ignore the health codes?

                                      1. re: lgphil

                                        Depending on the place, sure. As meatn3 notes, where, when and how the meat was ground has a lot to do with whether there are health concerns involved. If a restaurant is a known quantity for me and I know them to be conscientious and clean _and_ they grind their meat for their burgers in house, I'd be perfectly happy to have my burger rare, as I prefer them.

                                  2. re: ccbweb

                                    The state of doneness is more of a health issue with grinds. Grinding increases the chances of illness since E. coli and such get dispersed through out the mix, not just on the surface of the meat. If it is just on the surface, that area usually gets enough heat to kill it. If it is in the interior too, thats when you may have problems. Further more, if the grinding is not done in house, then it has probably been done at a large scale production center. This means meat from dozens upon dozens of animals from all over may be combined in one packet of grind. If there is a problem with just one animal it can lead to a wide spread problem. If one animal is sick, there are only so many pounds of steak or pot roast that can originate from that animal. Grind that meat up and mix it with more....you have a much bigger potential problem.

                                    1. re: meatn3

                                      I agree with you on all counts, but would add...

                                      Once the meat is ground up, proper handling becomes literally a matter of life an death. A steak that is allowed to get too warm isn't a big deal; the fecal coliform bacteria stay on the outside of the meat (a less-than-ideal growth medium) and are killed by even a brief sear. The center of a chub of hamburger, on the other hand, is a much more friendly environment for our little pathogenic friends, and they'll survive and thrive in the middle of a burger--and in the diner's gut--unless it's cooked medium or better.

                                      In a perfect world, the ground beef in the food supply would come from properly-butchered healthy cattle, and would be handled safely from slaughterhouse to table. But the reality is that too many people have been sickened and killed by beef that's ground at some centralized location then trucked around the country and stored in questionable conditions prior to being served.

                                      I love a pink burger. But only if the meat has been freshly ground by someone I trust.

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        Thanks for expanding further. I was unsure how much detail would be allowed to remain - and wanted enough left to perhaps encourage independent investigation!

                                        I've worked in a lot of restaurants and seen the potential for massive food safety problems. I tend to look for clues as a diner and ask questions (nicely) before I order certain foods out. Some people think it is overly obsessive...but things that you may choose to do at home take on a more serious form in a commercial setting. You don't know who you are cooking for and the entire staff needs to assume they are preparing food for the weakest diner. A compromised immune system isn't always apparent in a glance...

                                    2. re: ccbweb

                                      carne asada was cooked rare.. just like I like all my beef to be cooked.

                                      1. re: swsidejim

                                        Oh man, that sounds lovely. I haven't had rare carne asada (not lots of good Mexican food around my town just yet, though its improving rapidly).

                                      2. re: ccbweb

                                        There are similar, regarding the ingestion of raw seafood. I see them more, and more often.

                                        As has been well-mentioned already, it is risk assessment. Sometimes, it does get out of control. Other times, it protects us from our tastes, based on what is likely to be served.

                                        Even my Cuban cigars and my wines come with a ten page booklet of health warnings - no, maybe only four pages...

                                        You tell me that your burger is likely to make me ill, then I am not likely to be so hungry.


                                      3. jfood would order something else. He will not eat overdone burgers. Some restaurants are not good choices for burgers and why press your luck. And thank you for not taking it out on the server.

                                        Two weeks ago jfood went for a burger (medium-rare) and soup. After a bowl of onion soup he looked forward to the burger. Like you he likes it red on the inside. Burger came, cut in half, all gray. Back to the kitchen. Jfood this time explained to the server that he likes it pink to red on the inside if that helpd the chef. Burger number 2 arrived. Cut it in half and gray again. Jfood asked for the check. Manager comes over and takes alook. Medium well in his opinion. So he asked jfood to indulge one more time. Number 3 arrived and you guessed it medium well again.

                                        Manager apologized profusely and jfood asked for the check. Server said everything (oK all he ate was abowl of soup) was on the house. So jfood told her to ring up a penny. So jfood's soup was $10.01. Not the server's fault and jfood thanked the manager for trying. just a bad night.

                                        Does jfood wish anything bad on this place. Absolutely not. Just because you and jfood like burgers cooked properly does not mean others do not like med-well (i.e. mrs jfood). If no one eats the burgers the way they prepare them, they would not sell and off the menu they would go.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: jfood

                                          my wife is one of those charaters who likes well done beef, she would have been happy staying and eating, but I just had to move on based on principle. ;-)

                                          1. re: swsidejim

                                            let's see she also probably likes the steak med-well and right off the grill as well so it is piping hot. no resting, huh?

                                            1. re: jfood

                                              as well done as shoe leater..., resting wouldnt help, as all the juices have already been cooked out...

                                              I put her steak on about 20 mins before mine goes over the coals.

                                              1. re: swsidejim

                                                I put her steak on about 20 mins before mine goes over the coals.


                                                Oh wow. What a crime. :-(

                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                  I know, especially since the beef is prime typically.... mine goes on for about 4 mins per side depending on cut, and thickness.

                                        2. I have had that happen in PA in a diner -- burgers *had* to be cooked at least medium... I would've been willing to sign a waiver on my napkin just to get the burger the way I like it, which is RARE.

                                          The US is a litigious society, so I am guessing the restos are just afraid some customer will sue their pants off if they get sick from a burger.

                                          Of course, the factory farming & processing of meat does promote all kinds of nasty little bugs in your burger -- as opposed to organic / humanely raised cattle -- but according to your other posts, organic is just crazy '-)

                                          Can't have it both ways, I guess....

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: linguafood

                                            My DH and I have left any restaurant that has that notice. If I want a burger I want it rare only so why stay? If I missed the sign and already ate something I would of course tip the waiter but then leave.

                                            1. re: linguafood

                                              organic/"humanely raised" isnt crazy(i dont think I have ever said that), its just not something I believe in, or will pay extra for, I pay enough for prime, and dry aged beef at my buthcher as it is(typically over $20/lb.). :-)

                                              different strokes.

                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                When I'm eating in the US, I'm glad for rules like that. It's not that I want my meat overcooked, it's that the food supply in the US is such a filthy mess that if a place knows they can't safely serve you rare burgers, it's better that they don't. And for what it's worth, I would go somewhere else in that case, if it was an option. Overcooked filthy meat is more enticing than getting ill, but that's not saying much.

                                                Imagine trying to order Mett in the US. Most places would (rightly) tell you no, they can't reasonably make that for you. What's sad is that you'd think you'd be able to safely and easily get a proper burger in the US of all places ...

                                                I think I'll stop by my neighborhood butcher on the way home tonight and have them grind some steak for a tartare...

                                                1. re: tmso

                                                  Unfortunately, with the recent outbreaks of E. Coli in French meats and cheeses, i think it is more of a risk assessment problem, rather than one of location.

                                                  The world is a dangerous place, and how you hancle the risk needs to be an indiviual choice.

                                              2. I'd order something else or leave.
                                                Maine is a great place for barbarians: The Thirsty Whale in Bar Harbor. A large, juicy, rare burger w/ a huge order of fries and a pickle slice: $6.95, washed down with a Bar Harbor Ale.
                                                Do these same state laws apply to lamb too?

                                                1. If I were dining alone and/or my dining companions also were there and in the mood for the burger rare or medium rare, I'd leave and go elsewhere for my burger.

                                                  However, if I was with dining companions, particularly if they were not insistent on eating their burgers rare or medium rare, I'd order something else rather than put them in the position of having to leave partway through their meal, but make a mental note not to come back, at least for burgers......(if what I ordered turned out to be unusually good, I'd come back for that item....).

                                                  and if I were the dining companion and you did convince me to leave part way through my meal to go to another restaurant because you couldn't satisfy your craving at restaurant A, you'd darn well better order a burger at restaurant B!

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                                    I never figured having an appetizer, and a drink or two as being "part way through a meal", we had not ordered the main course...

                                                    Also we did not want to run into the same issue at another spot, or drive further to a place where we knew I could get a burger cooked correctly, we decided to cut our losses.

                                                    1. re: swsidejim

                                                      once I've ordered an appetizer, I am partly through my meal. I am glad your dining companions feel differently, if indeed they do.

                                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                                        it was my wife, and 2 year old daughter, I think they survived. Since we discussed our options before we left.

                                                  2. A few years ago Chili's (yeah, yeah...) adopted the medium-well or better policy. At the time, I liked their Rojo Burger, so I was disappointed. When I inquired at a Delaware location, the server informed me that it was ILLEGAL to serve burgers less than medium-well. The manager reinforced this, claiming it was a federal law, and that no restaurant was allowed to serve burgers with any pink showing. I ordered something else. When this routine happened again at a different Chili's (also in Delaware), I realized that their employees were being told to claim that this company policy was actually a law. This time, I left and never went back.

                                                    Just as well, with the Charcoal Pit nearby, what was I doing getting a burger fix at Chili's in the first place?

                                                    1. Buzz-kill alert!

                                                      I suggest that you all might want to reconsider and reread the posts by meatn3 and irisav.
                                                      The information is accurate and true.

                                                      1 month and 2 days ago I would have jumped on the 'it's my hamburger and I want it rare' bandwagon. (in fact, I'm sure I chimed in on a few beef-done-ness posts) But as of 1 month and 1 day ago, I'm not firmly in the 'if I don't know if this was ground in-house [and completely trust the restaurant], I'm not even going to order it.)

                                                      The ecoli-0157 is a horrible, horrible thing to watch your 2 year old deal with. 2 days in the ICU with a baby is not worth trusting your 'iron-gut'. A medium rare hamburger is not worth kidney failure.

                                                      The Pacific Northwest is experiencing an outbreak of this specific strain and they have not been able to trace its origins. And your iron-gut doesn't mean you don't have it. It means that you just aren't impacted all that much. But the person you might give it, especially if young or elderly, could end up on dialysis and this has proven fatal.

                                                      Yeah, I'm too close to this topic but you know what? If you care about food and what you eat, you should care about it too.

                                                      20 Replies
                                                      1. re: sebetti

                                                        I would not share a burger cooked rare wih my 2 year old(she would have had chicken tenders, but ended up with tortilla chips, beans, rice, and carnita's). There are common sense practices & guidelines for what you should feed young children/elderly, or those with weakened immune systems, and I follow them.

                                                        1. re: swsidejim

                                                          I have to admit that I'm feeling a little frustrated.
                                                          First, I also, do not share rare hamburgers with my child and I didn't mean to imply that you did either. I am not criticizing your parenting choices.

                                                          What I saying is that perhaps the food world is a little bit scarier and a little bit dirtier than you know and what might not hurt you could hurt others. And sadly, YOU could be the disease vector based on what you ate, or what the guy plating the chicken fingers ate or handled.

                                                          I don't like hamburgers prepared medium. I will not order one in a restaurant. That leaves a very few places left that I know DO grind their own hamburger and do have impeccable reputations. But that usually means going out for a $20 hamburger which doesn't always fit my hamburger budget.
                                                          I'm sure as hell not going to pony up a few bucks to bribe a wait person in some random restaurant in order to get what I want. I'll just order something else...and learn to grind my own beef at home.

                                                          1. re: sebetti

                                                            Re: "perhaps the food world is a little bit scarier and a little bit dirtier than you know": Parts of the food world are much dirtier than we have a right to expect. Filth is a fact of life when it comes to industrially-ground beef.

                                                            Re: "what might not hurt you could hurt others": With regard to e. coli 0157:H7, at least, it would be more accurate to say "what might just make you really sick could kill others."

                                                            To the OP: you ultimately get to make the decision about the risks you take with your food. But if you haven't done so already, I would encourage you to make that an informed decision by looking into the prevalence of pathogens in beef that is ground at processing plants. It might give you pause.

                                                            1. re: sebetti

                                                              I hear your opinion & respect it.

                                                              Although I am not sure a how a thread basically asking "would you stay or would you go" has turned into a meat safety debate. But its all good. :-)

                                                              It is so rare I opt for a burger for lunch(I usually go for a steak, or a rueben,) I was just shocked a restaurant would dictate how a burger would be cooked. Perhaps I had never noticed it before. Also since I get my ground chuck from a local butcher who I see grinding it in front of me I have never had to worry at home when eating a rare burger.

                                                              1. re: sebetti

                                                                Sabetti, first jfood's prayers go out to a full recovery for little sabetti. it is horrible to watch little ones suffer.

                                                                It was jfood who slipped the lincoln for a pink burger and he would do it again under the same circumstances. It's his choice to accept the risks of the pink burger. Let's also remember that e-coli can, unfortunately, crop up in a tomato, jalepeno pepper, lettuce or any number of places. likwise should people stop eating oysters because of a little food poisoning (jfood spent 6 hours in an airplane bathroom back from france once).

                                                                Every time you pick up a utensil, someone has touched it, a glass, likewise. Life is full of germs all over the place, some more harmful than others. A warning on many menus exist to alert the public.

                                                                But jfood wants the choice to order his meat pink. But just as you WILL eat at a less than medium burger at certain restaurants you obviously will take that small chance of a process failure. The rest of us just have a different risk profile.

                                                                What jfood does not want is the government telling him what to eat. He wants advice not regulations and he will decide if he wants the pink hamburger or the mercury laced fish.


                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                  While I understand how people can feel miffed at not having the freedom of choice to take their own risks the comparison of risk that you make between a fork, glass etc to a rare hamburger is somewhat disingenuous.

                                                                  The bacteria that you are likely to be exposed to from using a utensil that some else has touched/contaminated is different to that in of a contaminated hamburger.

                                                                  The EHEC 0157:H7 strain generally isn't carried by humans, therefore, contamination of utensils from passing contact with 0157:H7 is very unlikely. Further to any bacteria colonising a utensil (glass etc) is exposed to a very hostile environment - few nutrients, low ambient temperature, dry environment, exposure to O2 - for bacteria that are adapted to growing in mammalian GI tracts (usually the source of gastro caused by pathogenic bacteria) energy is spent surviving, not expanding the population exponentially. The end result is that unless the individual contaminating the utensils has truly foul personal habits you would be pretty unlucky to be exposed to a dose large enough to cause infection/illness.

                                                                  However, ground meat provides a very friendly environment for pathogens to grow, moist conditions, low exposure to O2 and plenty of nutrients. Again that is not to say that all ground meat products are harbouring dangerous pathogens, it is simply that the risks are significant and the consequences are grave for some people.

                                                                  Establishment policies, federal and local government laws, are not about fear of an overly litigious society, or bureaucracy run mad. these people have a duty of care to the public, particularly as it pertains to public health.

                                                                  The vast majority of people have no issues with the fact that the water supply is treated to eliminate water-borne pathogens, what individual wants to risk exposure to cholera, cryptosporidium, giardia and a whole suite of other viruses and bacteria? Cooking hamburgers until they are fully cooked is simply the same application of logic (indeed common sense), a simple and easy way to ensure individuals don't become seriously ill. It is because EHEC 0157:H7 can cause such serious illness (haemolytic-uremic syndrome which can cause kidney failure) that particular attention is paid to hamburgers.

                                                                  Not only that but on consideration of the risks only serving fully cooked hamburgers makes good business sense. It only takes one incident of serious illness being traced back to a food establishment for the death knell to sound for the business.

                                                                  You are right that fresh fruit and vegetables have been implicated in food-borne gastro outbreaks. Indeed on a number of occasions 0157:H7 has been traced back to these sources, generally though this is a result of improper handling during cultivation and storage, hence producers are regulated and educated to minimise these risks, much like restaurants.

                                                                  For those who wish to find out more about EHEC 0157:H7 I recommend the following link:


                                                                  I guess I would like to conclude with the thought that the good health, the low morbidity and mortality rates we in developed nations enjoy (particularly the low infant mortality rates) are a direct result of regulation of food and water sources, storage and handling by the government.

                                                                  Yes sometimes it can seem absurd, annoying or overly bureaucratic but it is also what protects us from the plethora of illnesses we experience or witness when we travel overseas to developing nations.

                                                                  1. re: irisav

                                                                    Jfood agrees with your right to express your opinion and disagree with him, please refrain from frontal assault with accusing him of being "disingenuous". He is being very real.

                                                                    And please re-read jfood post. He express e-coli in para 2 and then changed the word to germs in para 3 when he discussed utensils. He fully understands the difference, the potential severity and the likelihood of disease contraction from both. Likewise he spent two years bringing potable water to LDC's so he also understands that backdrop.

                                                                    There is a difference, though, in an infrastructure requirement of delivering safe water to 100% of the population and regulating the doneness of a hamburger that an extremely small subset are looking for. When Tom turns on the water for coffee he is not looking for a rare, medium or well done choice, he demands safe. Likewise when he receives a shot of heprin, he does want it contaminated and kill him because some Chinese firm manufactured it. Jfood absolutely agrees that government plays a role in that to the nth degree. And jfood also agrees that when a potential contamination occurs, please alert the public with appropriate disclosure.

                                                                    But, jfood does not believe that government needs to regulate absolutely every aspect of his life. And where does the line get drawn. If there is a 50% chance of illness, please regulate. If there is a .00000000000000000000000001% chance of illness please let jfood use his brain to accept or reject that risk.

                                                                    So jfood thinks you basically agree that there are absolutely areas where government should regulate, it's just a difference of where to draw the line in the sand.

                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                      When it comes to industrially-ground meat, contamination levels are a lot closer to 50% than .00000000000000000000000001%. As a matter of fact, some studies have found e. coli 0157:H7 in over 40% of ground beef in packing-house samples, and over 50% of supermarket samples. (H.S. Hussein, Prevalence and pathogenicity of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli in beef cattle and their products, J Anim Sci 2007.85:E63-E72.) The lowest contamination rates found are about 0.1%.

                                                                      As far as regulation goes, I'd prefer to see rules that reduce the level of contamination. Meanwhile, though, I don't have much problem with regulations imposed by the government or by the restaurant that require industrially-ground beef to be fully cooked. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm going to eat the stuff...

                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes


                                                                        Thank you for the citation. That is one hell of an article. Sorta reminds you of "The Jungle".

                                                                        It was an extemely eye-opening set of data about the level of e-coli in the food chain. Jfood is glad he never use raw milk.

                                                                        OK Jfood will be more careful on the places he buys burgers.

                                                                        Thanks again. Glad lunch is pizza.

                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                          I'm very sorry if I caused jfood offense. The use of the term disingenuous was not used as a judgement of jfood's character, but to state that the risk of exposure to pathogens on utensils etc is not as straightforwardly equivalent to risk of exposure in burger meat. That is to say that a lay person reading the post with no thorough understanding of microbiology may have felt a rising sense of panic that they are taking their life into their hands (or someone else's poor hygiene) every time they visit a restaurant.

                                                                          My intention was not to suggest that jfood was being deliberately disingenuous - because you weren't, to the informed eye everything jfood stated is perfectly valid. But, there are a lot more people out there who have limited knowledge of microbiology and pathogenic risks than there are people with a sound knowledge, and it was for the benefit of the former that I was writing so that they could have a more complete picture.

                                                                          In response to your final point isn't it also the restaurant's decision, on assessment of the risk factors, whether they are prepared to take on the risk also? That was why I made the argument for it simply being good business sense for the restaurant - because while they may lose the occasional customer for not making hamburger to order they would lose far more customers if someone (or many people) became seriously ill from undercooked burger.

                                                                          Again I would like to apologise to you jfood if it felt like I was personally attacking you, I thought I was just responding to the points you made.

                                                                          1. re: irisav

                                                                            not to worry.

                                                                            jfood agrees that the business has that option and the customer does as well. jfood really does not want gov't making a blanket decision on temperature to cook burgers, or fish, or oysters.

                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                              Smart folks let sleeping dogs lie. I feel the irresistible urge to poke 'em with a stick...

                                                                              If there was a 50% (5%, .5%, .05%) chance that the water served in a restaurant was contaminated, would you have a problem with the government making a blanket decision that it had to be boiled? Once a public health threat reaches a certain level, the government can and should step in.

                                                                              I'm not saying that rare burgers or oysters on the half shell rise to that level. And I'm definitely not saying that our public officials consistently make good decisions about how to regulate our food supply. But I'd far rather see the occasionally idiotic regulation than a complete abdication of regulatory authority.

                                                                              "The Jungle" was written during the least-regulated period in our country's history. Make of it what you will.

                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                Naive Barney went to the dance.
                                                                                Dirty Harriet stuck her hand down his pants.
                                                                                But aha, he he fooled her.
                                                                                He had hid his money in his shoe!
                                                                                Our beef cannot be sold in Europe of Japan. ( The gov't of S Korea nearly fell this summer after riots by the public over allowing American beef into the country.).
                                                                                American chicken is a toxic waste dump.
                                                                                But gimme a rare burger.
                                                                                Get up Rover.

                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes


                                                                                  Great start to the morning. Love the first para.

                                                                                  Jfood thinks the the study said the range was 4-50 on one type and up to 70 on the other. Now how does that translate into the next step of the food chain. Now jfood is glad he does not partake of raw milk and the other items mentioned in the article.

                                                                                  safe weekend buddy. Back to watching mrs jfood make the brisket.

                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes


                                                                                    See my "giradia" comment.

                                                                                    While Sinclair Lewis did pen his oft-cited novel in another time, there does seem to be much that "slips between the cracks," with regards to our food. Yes, we have a complete tome on how coffee in a "go-cup" is hot, but still there are folk getting away with "murder." OK, that is far too harsh a term, but still food material that should never be eaten is being served with some level of impunity.

                                                                                    While I do love my med-rare burgers, I may be rethinking my stand on what can be ordered. Still, I think that I might just go elsewhere instead, or do it at home, by my method - and pray...

                                                                                    It's a difficult subject. Hey, how hard does "I want my burgers med-rare," sound? Still, there can be alot more to it, as many others have pointed out.

                                                                                    I think I'll do turkey (monitored cooking temp) leftovers, that have been stored at proper temps. Burgers will have to wait, until I re-read "The Jungle... "


                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                      In my opinion, the problem with the food supply is the pendulum swing between "what you don't know can't hurt you" and the assumption that everything is toxic.

                                                                                      Giardia and e. coli infections are easily avoided. The simplest methods of avoidance are binary: don't drink water unless it's been boiled; don't eat meat unless it's been overcooked. If you're a restaurant owner, these rules are easy to obey. And if you're a government regulator, they're easy to enforce. The health inspector doesn't care whether the end product is tasty, just whether it's safe. And there's something to be said for that.

                                                                                      But binary rules don't allow for the exercise of judgment or informed risk management. In my opinion, that's where individual responsibility comes into play. I'll eat steak tartare that I ground in my own kitchen without hesitation, but wouldn't touch the stuff at Applebee's. (Not that I'd eat at Applebee's, or that they'd serve steak tartare, but you get the picture.) In the first situation, I have complete confidence that the grinder has been sanitized and the meat judged to be of good quality by somebody who knows what they're doing, and the entire process conducted in a sanitary fashion. In the second ... not so much.

                                                                                      So when it comes to the mid-rare burger, look around. I get the impression that you eat far fewer meals than I do in places that buy commodity beef from the cheapest possible sources. But if you do, stick with the pot roast. Even at upscale joints, ask questions. The wait staff and the back-of-house folks are generally eager to oblige.

                                                                                      Food-borne illness is fairly uncommon in the US, not because of proper food handling, but because most places take steps to prevent food poisoning. IMHO, that's neither a bad thing nor a good thing. A sanitized filthburger may not make you sick, but is it really good eats? Accountability on the part of the kitchen and the diner would be the ideal, but it's kind of tough to make that happen.

                                                                          2. re: jfood

                                                                            Slightly off-topic, or maybe not. Going back, wife contracted giardia, while camping in Aspen, CO. She recovered, and became very careful with regards to water sources, especially in the Colorado mountains. Some months later, we were in a larger mountain town, and both coffee and orange juice were made from the tap. Everyone in the skiing party became quite ill, except for me. My wife nearly died, due to another case of giardia, when her gut was weakened.

                                                                            We contacted the town management, and were told that they knew of the giardia in the local water, but did not wish to alarm the tourists, as the “season” was almost over. The law suit is still on-going, but wife now drinks bottled water in any US city/town below 2 million inhabitants, and even then not that often.

                                                                            Now, if we apply that to this thread, we have the need to shield the public from possibly contaminated food. On another hand, why would a restaurant serve possibly contaminated food, with only the hopes that over-cooking will render it safe?

                                                                            I like my beef med-rare, burgers included. The slope gets very “slippery” - “the sword cuts both ways.” If anyone thinks that their food (or water) might be contaminated, then I just move on - or drink my wife’s bottled water. If ever Evian has a health problem, then we are SOL.


                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                              hey Bill, just a wee correction wrt food related american literature:

                                                                              it was Upton Sinclair who wrote the jungle:

                                                                              and Sinclair Lewis wrote babbitt, main street, elmer gantry, & many others:

                                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                Of course! What a DUH moment for me. How did I ever pass American Literature? Guess it was because I took it, when both these writers were but "pups." Thank you for the correction. I should have known better...


                                                                  2. re: sebetti

                                                                    Several years ago a small elementary school district in eastern Washington state undercooked the commercially purchased ground beef for tacos for school lunches. I believe 10 or 12 kids were hospitalized and 2 died from ec0157

                                                                  3. You did as you should have done. The restaurant can have such a policy (it's the law in some states), and you can leave.

                                                                    1. As some have said, don't order a rare hamburger unless it's ground in-house, each day. SO loves a rare burger and, thank goodness, has never been ill from eating them. We only order them from local, well-known establishments.
                                                                      Firegoat knows that we are about to go to Tulsa for a week and I found only one high-end place that grinds their own, from steak scraps. Other places said, "we get it in fresh daily" or "what we get should be ground fresh daily", meaning they didn't have a clue. I, personally, grind my own and can eat something else if I am dining out and have any uncertainty. Some places brag that they grind their own meat. That would be a good start...

                                                                      1. I guess I'm not that particular, I'd find something else to order. But I'm not a rare-burger eater, anyway. My wife always asks my dad to cook hers to the juicy size (because he incinerates everything on the grill), so she gets a nice and pleasing pink-centered burger, but when we're out and she rarely orders a burger, she just says medium and hopes for the best.
                                                                        We do eat our steaks all nice and bloody, but we at least like to THINK steaks are safe at the medium-rare level.
                                                                        I just can't see myself getting up and walking out on the basis of a "we cook our burgers to this level" statement. But if I were, Mexican food would be the second choice.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: podunkboy

                                                                          for the record its not like I stormed out, or even implied to the server that the cooking of the burger was the reason for us wanting the check. I just asked for the check after we ate the appetizer, and after I had in a freindly matter asked him about the "no exceptions" rule for the tempertature of their burgers. He could have inferred the burger temperature was theissue, but there was no debate, or eye rolling on my part over their rules. I just moved on.

                                                                        2. swsidejim -
                                                                          In answer to your original questions:
                                                                          I don't find the situation unacceptable in general. If they extended it to how to cook my steak, I would find that unreasonable. If I really wanted to take care of a burger craving, then yes, I would go elsewhere since I like mine on the rare side. I would order something else rather than eat an overcooked burger.

                                                                          Being in a state with this type health code I have learned to inquire before I'm even seated (usually call ahead) as to where the grind is made....and plan accordingly.
                                                                          The first time I encountered this I was stunned, but as I learned more about the reasoning and the process involved in commercial grinds I came to see the logic of the policy.

                                                                          Funny thing is my grandmother always ground her own at my grandfathers insistence. His family had a butcher shop when he was young and it made him very aware of what could go wrong from a hygiene standpoint. The rest of the family just thought they were obsessive...With the increasing number of recalls of grind over the last 10+ years, I guess their caution had a fair amount of merit after all!

                                                                          1. I'm curious about that people think of restaurants who do the opposite of the 'rare burger' thing - that won't cook meat past a certain done-ness. I'm thinking specifically of some of my local favourites that serve game, and won't do it past medium, or even medium rare at some. Do you think this should be the chef's choice or the customer's? In that case, it isn't a health issue but one of the chef's preference. But should the customer be allowed to ask for overcooked meat, and should the chef compromise his/her standards for a customer?

                                                                            17 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Dan G

                                                                              Dan_G -- there IS! The best burger joint in Berlin refuses to prepare your burger well-done. They "recommend" medium-rare, and give you a lot of shit if you want to go past that.

                                                                              They do, however, grind their burger meat fresh from U.S. prime steaks every couple hours or so, which is reflected in the incredible deliciousness of their burger:


                                                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                                                linguafood - I know there are restaurants that specify how they will cook meat, but what I am curious about is people's reactions to refusal to overcook. This whole thread has been about people's right to eat rare hamburger, so I wondered if there was as strong an opinion the other way.

                                                                                1. re: Dan G

                                                                                  I dont think I have ever seen a place state that they refuse to overcook meat. I typically see a funny comment on the menu saying that they are "not responsible" for meat cooked past medium, or something humerous like that.

                                                                                  1. re: swsidejim

                                                                                    I eat in restaurants quite regularly that won't cook certain meats (elk, caribou, bison) past medium. The menus usually say something like 'cooked rare unless requested otherwise; no medium-well or well'. They don't say anything about responsibility, but it is their preference as to how they think it should be served.

                                                                                    1. re: Dan G

                                                                                      i see the comments I mentioned typically in non-chain, mid-level steakhouses, insinuating anything cooked past medium is an abomination, and trying to, in a humerous way dissuade someone from ruining their steak.

                                                                                      1. re: swsidejim

                                                                                        No the resto is trying to do away with the "My well done Filet is tough and I want my money back" routine that I have witnessed too many times.

                                                                                        1. re: swsidejim

                                                                                          As jodymaryk echoes below, I have worked at a chain restaurant where we quite clearly stated on the menu "We are not responsible for the tenderness of steaks ordered medium-well or well-done."

                                                                                          I'm a Pittsburgh style guy, myself.

                                                                                    2. re: Dan G

                                                                                      I know this post is a little old, but I have had exactly the type experience you're asking about happen to me, in one of the very best restaurants in Manhattan, owned by a world-famous chef and food expert, whose name everyone knows (but I won't post it).

                                                                                      I ordered medallions of a game bird--I think maybe partridge (several years ago, don't recall exactly). When it was served, the centers of the medallions were at least medium rare, if not rare. They were still red and just this side, if you ask me, of dripping blood. I can manage "medium-well" sometimes, depending on the protein, but that's my outer limit. I eat my entrees "well-done". I can only tolerate the end cuts of prime rib, which I enjoy, but even then, I usually don't eat the center of the cut. Too pink usually for me.

                                                                                      So, I asked for it to be cooked more, and it is the type establishment in which the server would *never* actually tell a patron, "no". He said, "Of course, Madame," took the plate back to the kitchen, and when he re-served it, it looked exactly the same. I understood immediately the message, that it was the Executive Chef's decision that this degree of rareness was the only proper way to prepare the bird, and he wasn't going to compromise his standards.

                                                                                      It woud have been inappropriate to my hosts and in this type of establishment to push the issue, so, I thanked him and did the whole push it around my plate and nibble at the accompaniments routine, but I've never been back and I won't return there.

                                                                                      It's not out of anger. When a chef reaches the level of accomplishment that this restaurant's owner has, and you know that his accomplishments are real, and he knows his food, then you simply have to make a decision as to whether his cuisine is to your taste. Chefs at that level are artists, and you relate to them as such. If an oil painter does work that you can't relate to, you don't tell him what to paint. Instead, you purchase paintings from another artist whose work connects to you.

                                                                                      However, if it were a neighborhood restaurant with a line cook rather than a chef, I would have insisted that my entree be prepared well-done, after assuring them I understood they weren't guaranteeing its texture or taste. Of course, my neighborhood restaurants don't tend to serve partridge, so it's not much of an issue, anyway. :-D

                                                                                      1. re: Steady Habits


                                                                                        Very well done and very well written. Glad you posted this story.

                                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                                            Agreed. My only issue w/ the restaurant is that the waiter (intentionally or not) misled you. If the chef was unwilling to alter the preparation, he (presumably through the waiter) should have said so, rather than pretending to address the issue, while doing nothing. I find this sort of behavior to be patronizing, rather than polite.

                                                                                            Still, your response to the situation was exactly the right one.

                                                                                            1. re: brandywiner

                                                                                              I felt a little bit patronized, too (*she smiles wrily*), but...whatcha gonna do?

                                                                                              Had I been there alone with my husband (versus being the guests of someone else), I would have quietly but politely confirmed with the server that the chef chose not to honor my request, just so the server would know that I knew "what's what". But...risking embarrassing or hurting the feelings of our hosts who had been so excited about taking us there was not an option (as I know you understand).

                                                                                              I could barely force the accompaniments down, with the partridge that was so unappealing to me sitting right there in the center of the plate.

                                                                                              I remember it as one of the worst meals of my life, but what's ironic is that, had I been in the mood to choose something else on the menu that night, I would now most likely be talking about one of the best meals of my life, and be one with the rest of humankind in thinking this restaurateur-chef is a divinity (with a small "d").


                                                                                              1. re: Steady Habits

                                                                                                oh c'mon. now you *have* to share the name. it's not like you slammed him or anything, he just didn't prepare stuff the way you like it.

                                                                                                so do share! I am holding my breath ---

                                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                  No, lingua, I won't! LOL

                                                                                                  C'mon, now. You already know who I'm talking about, don't you? Shhhh. Don't say. *Pictures lingua pulling up online all the menus of restaurants in Manhattan that ever earned five stars, searching furiously for those who serve partridge.* Except...now that I think about it, it may have been guinea fowl. Or possibly something more pedestrian, such as squab. I'm not sure; it's been a few years. A lot of meals since then. >:-)

                                                                                                  1. re: Steady Habits

                                                                                                    Let's hope that 'squab' wasn't NYC pigeon '-)

                                                                                                    Happy New Year!

                                                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                      Always a concern of mine, especially when I see folk in long coats feeding them outside the restaurant!


                                                                                    3. re: Dan G

                                                                                      game is very often/always **far** lower-fat content than commercial beef in the u.s.-- if it is overcooked and ruined, it truly becomes impossible to eat. no customer would be satisfied with the presentation, flavor, texture, etc of the ruined venison/game. the restaurant refusing to cook beyond medium is just protecting their reputation, their profits, and not least of all the beautiful meat. people who like ruined meat, or have a compromised immune system for some reason, should make a different menu choice, as they will not be able to enjoy venison/game if it's overcooked-- kinda like a customer asking for well-done sashimi-- well actually, you've insulted the chef and our food quality, & putting that aside, we'd encourage you to order something else you may actually enjoy, if you please. . .

                                                                                    4. It sounds like you were eating at an Applebee's type place; I recently did some time at Chili's, which is owned by QDI (who also owns Burger King), and there was a similiar rule in place. It has been my experience that burgers aren't cooked any less than medium because of the quality of the meat. Regardless of the quality, however, I do remember someone saying something to me about there still being a risk of food-borne illness because of the surface area of a hamburger than, say, a steak. I'll have to ask Rob again and regret that I can't remember it now.

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Ette1010

                                                                                        nope, I avoid chains like the plague. It was a local pub/bar & grill

                                                                                        1. re: Ette1010

                                                                                          The premise is that gound beef is shaped and formed and therefore the exterior (most likely contaminated) is pushed into the interior where it might not reach a high enough temp to kill the nasties.
                                                                                          A steak might be contaminated but cooking it can bring the exterior up to the proper temp while leaving the interior nice and rare.

                                                                                          1. re: sebetti

                                                                                            As an adjunct, if you grind your own meat you first wash the outside to remove any contaminents. Then when you grind, hopefully none of the bad guys go inside and not reach the 160 degree safe temp in a med-rare burger..

                                                                                            1. re: sebetti

                                                                                              Thank you for explaining this to me! I'll file it away for later.

                                                                                          2. "we are about to go to Tulsa for a week and I found only one high-end place that grinds their own"

                                                                                            This comports with what I have to believe about restaurants. And it's in beef country.

                                                                                            I am surprised to see so many posts about restaurants grinding beef for burgers. I have to imagine that almost every place one might stop for a burger, other than some where that specializes in high-end burgers, purchases ground beef or indeed beef patties.

                                                                                            I am not surprised by the number of people who apparently look down on those who enjoy their food cooked differently. The plain truth is, even though you may not personally like it, there is nothing wrong with a burger or steak cooked medium

                                                                                            For the OP, have you ever eaten a burger cooked medium? I ask because you assert that with the "no less than medium" proviso you could not get "a tasty, much less flavorfull burger". This is an absurd contention. What you couldn't get was a burger cooked the way you wanted. Without having been to the place, I would still bet even their well-done burgers are tasty - just not to your taste.

                                                                                            had a cigar the other day that was very flavorful. I didn't like it. Can I honestly describe it as not flavorful or tasty?

                                                                                            The biggest beef eaters in the world will tell you that rare is "an American thing."

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: FrankJBN

                                                                                              I have had an a medium burger, as well as a steak on a few occasions, such as:

                                                                                              1) when I was young, and didnt know how to order a steak, or burger to my taste

                                                                                              2) a kitchen has overcooked a burger or steak I have ordered

                                                                                              3) at family picnics where you eat what you get

                                                                                              All of the above were not as enjoyable as a rare - medium rare piece of beef in my humble American opinion.

                                                                                              1. re: swsidejim

                                                                                                I must confess that as a non-American I found the rare hamburger thing a little strange.
                                                                                                It just doesn't seem to happen where I come from, indeed the thought of eating rare ground beef makes me feel a little uneasy, although have no problems with rare steak or even steak tartare. I guess it just comes down to what your accustomed to because I love a fully cooked hamburger.

                                                                                              2. re: FrankJBN

                                                                                                I'm a medium-rare (towards rare, if they can't do it perfectly), kind of guy when it comes to most meats. There's some meats and some cuts that I wouldn't want cooked that little.

                                                                                                You sure are welcome to your opinion that meat cooked medium is flavorful and tasty, but saying it is the "plain truth" that "there's nothing wrong with it" is more accurate. When you get to well-done...., well..., I think you've just ruined a steak and hamburgers start tasting like cardboard.
                                                                                                I used to smoke a cigar now and then. Can't say that I agree with that analogy.

                                                                                              3. From another viewpoint, I live in BC, Canada. When some children died in Washington State in the '80s, my provincial government made cooking ground beef to less than 170 degrees F illegal. For 25 years, the idea that a burger with even a touch of pink is unsafe has been ground into my head, and consequently, pink burgers horrify me. I love tartare, I can't eat steak anything more than medium rare (and I've taken enough food safety to know that there's a risk there), but pink burger? A restaurant served my BF and I rare burgers in the past year, and I tried, but I couldn't bring myself to eat it. Rare burgers give me the heebie jeebies. As for self-ground meat, I don't even think I could do that.

                                                                                                In answer to your question, the customer is always entitled to take their business elsewhere if they can't get what they want. I think it's dishonorable to get angry with any establishment that is trying to uphold a law, but I don't think that was the case, it was just the restaurant policy. But because of my "nurture," if I went to a restaurant that served burgers rare, I would be reluctant to eat anything there. I mean, if they take that risk, what else are they doing?

                                                                                                1. The question is "What would you do if.." so here's what I'd do. If it's a burgers only type of place, and I had gone there just for that purpose, I'd go somewhere else. But if it's a casual dining place which certainly has a variety of menu items that are not "cooked to order" anyway, I'd stay and order something different. The point being there are way too many restaurants in this world to feel bound by just one.

                                                                                                  1. I would never go to any nice restaurant to buy a burger, I would go to a fast food place for that. Other wise I would make my own burger, my way, on the grill at home. As for getting sick from entero-haemorrhagic e. coli (EHEC) 0157:H7 tainted meat not being cooked enough, you have a better chance of winning the fla. lotto.... Just a bunch of wimps worried about nothing . The rule is used just to cover up the bad job most restaurants do on keeping the product stored at the right temp, and not using it before it goes bad. The burgers they make may taste different, but they won't kill you, if they cook it long enough. I have seen the same thing done with so called fresh seafood in florida. I was once told by a kitchen manager, if it smells funny cook it longer, the customer will never know, after they drink a few beers.

                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: seabelow

                                                                                                      This is not true. A family friend bought prepressed (ground in-store) patties from a store and got sick from that because the presser itself was contaminated. I am pretty sure she used it almost immediately. Contamination is a very real possibility and has nothing to do with being "wimpy."

                                                                                                      1. re: queencru

                                                                                                        Your friend got sick from where, when? How many other people got sick? Where did the product that cause the contamination of the presser come from? Or was it the rotton old meat someone didn't clean off the presser last time it was used that caused the problem? Since the meat was o.k. before it got there. The meat wasn't the problem, the dirty store was the problem. Was there a recall of other meat products that came from that food store? Did that store have a history of selling bad food?.... Lets hear/see the rest of the story. What store? In what town? and How long ago ? Was their anything in the local paper in that town, near that store that supports your friends story?..
                                                                                                        How many people you know including yourself, other than your friend, has had a problem with hamburger? Other than getting the 73% grind and leaving a greasy trail to the bath room, from too much fat added to the meat, then not cooking it long enought to render the fat out? So they could make a so called "rare grease burger".then blame it on the store....
                                                                                                        (quote) "got sick from that because the presser itself was contaminated. I am pretty sure she used it almost immediately." Did she use it right away ? Did it go bad because she picked up the meat 1st, then shopped for another hour, then went to the checkout. Then put the meat in a hot car, then drove a 1/2 hour to get home.
                                                                                                        Stopped for gas on the way home, once home she laid the meat on the counter, while she did a few quick things around the house, Maybe she put it in fridge that's not cold enough to store meat for more that a day with out freezing the meat..... the story seems to have a lot of open ends... before saying the meat was bad from the store....

                                                                                                      2. re: seabelow

                                                                                                        ~~you have a better chance of winning the fla. lotto.... Just a bunch of wimps worried about nothing ~~

                                                                                                        If that were true, I'd be buying a lot more Florida lottery tickets. The odds of getting sick from eating undercooked industrially-ground beef are more like the odds of buying a winning scratch ticket. Not a sure thing, by any means, but not terribly unlikely.

                                                                                                        Just this summer, Nebraska Beef released 5.3 million pounds of e. coli tainted beef into the retail market. There were 49 confirmed cases of e. coli O157:H7 infection. http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/june2008outb...

                                                                                                        Last year, 21.7 million pounds of tainted Topps Ground Beef Patties were recalled, but not before causing 40 confirmed illnesses. http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2007/october...

                                                                                                        The year before that, 71 people were confirmed to have been sickened at various Taco Bell restaurants in the Northeast. http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2006/decembe...

                                                                                                        Best estimates are that only 1 in 10 cases of food poisoning from each major outbreak are definitively linked to the source of the contamination. Most people don't get sick enough to go to the hospital, and of those who do, most don't have samples submitted to the epidemiological authorities for DNA comparison. So it's a safe bet that an average of between 500 and 1000 people a year contract e. coli O157:H7 infections in major outbreaks.

                                                                                                        Major being the operative word. As in multi-state, with hundreds of people sickened. CDC doesn't post national updates when a few people are poisoned by undercooked hamburger from an individual restaurant or supermarket. So the total number of individuals who get sick from tainted hamburger each year is much, much larger.

                                                                                                        It isn't just restaurants that do a poor job of storing meat at the proper temperature. Packing plants, trucking companies, distribution centers, grocery stores, and end users have all been implicated.

                                                                                                        I'm very flexible when it comes to food handling practices. Raw eggs - no problem. Mid-rare pork - perfect. A steak that falls on the floor gets rinsed and grilled (assuming the dogs don't beat me to it). Soups and stocks can sit on the back of the stove for days without refrigeration so long as they're simmered well before serving. Separate cutting boards for meat, veg, poultry, and fish? Give me a break. Mayonnaise at room temperature for a few hours (or even overnight)? No worries. And I'm happy to eat raw hamburger - but only if it's fresh-ground by me or somebody I trust. Poultry and pre-ground beef, on the other hand, get fully cooked. Period. The risk is significant, and the downside is really, really ugly.

                                                                                                      3. Here in TO they won't cook to order and I have to becareful with the doneness/freshness balance of GB anyway so it's not a big deal.

                                                                                                        It could be why it's so bloody hard to find a great burger in TO.


                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                          In Toronto they will, you just have to go to the right place. Bymark cooks their burger however you want it, and it's incredible.

                                                                                                          1. re: tjr

                                                                                                            I went to a place week that said it would cook to order. I ordered medium well and it came very well.


                                                                                                        2. This seems to be becoming more commonplace. "Health issues" are usually cited.

                                                                                                          It is almost the same as a kitchen/chef NOT cooking someone's beef (whatever) "medium-well" to "well-done." Except for possible health issues, that is.

                                                                                                          In the former, there might be a good reason - poor quality burgers, or maybe an edict from the CDC. In the case of the latter, I think that the kitchen/chef is imposing his/her/heir will upon the patrons.

                                                                                                          Now, the latter doesn't bother me, as I do not like much cooked "medium-well," or more. In the case of the former, maybe they know something that we do not.


                                                                                                          1. When I lived in NYC, the only place I would get a burger was Pipers Kilt. They made my burgers the way I like 'em--so rare you could hear the "moo" when you bit into it!

                                                                                                            Mostly, I will just make burgers at home---when we go out if a place won't give me a very, very, very rare burger, I'll just get something else.

                                                                                                            1. This happened to me a few years ago at a chain (Sizzler). This is not a restaurant that I woudl choose, but it was New Year's Day and there weren't very many restaurants open. I went ahead and had a burger cooked medium, and have never even entered the door of another Sizzler since. I figured that as a frank admission that they do not believe that their meat is fresh. Of course, it also doesn't hurt that it's one of the worst restaurants in the area anyway!

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: Kathleen M

                                                                                                                Off-topic, but along the lines of your Sizzler experience - well sort of. Driving between New Orleans and Devner, when we found ourselves in Dodge City, KS on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Nothing open. Matter of fact, there had been nothing open for the last 300 miles. Finally, we hit Dodge City, and there was a Golden Corral and a Mc Donalds. I did not know Golden Corral, but had spent the last 20 years of my life avoiding any Mc Donalds. We pulled in and entered. It was a buffet sorta' layout with a salad bar and a counter to place your orders, prior to grazing at the salad bar. I got the petite filet, med-rare plus some sides. Hit the salad bar and got something that looked pretty good. Hey, we were hungry and tired from driving all day. The filet arrived and was absolutely wonderful. Up near the better American Kobe filets, that I have since had. Great meal. Total for two came to about US$25.00.

                                                                                                                Later I went to several other Golden Corrals and was horribly disappointed - Sizzler style. I guess that even a Golden Corral next to one of the largest beef feedlots on earth migh have good beef. Not so for the others. Still, I can conjure up the taste of THAT filet and it's been almost 30 years. I did decide to not try any more Golden Corrals, but at one instant in time in one location in the middle of KS, there was a great filet. One of a kind? Maybe, and I do not have the interest to try to find another.

                                                                                                                Hey, the Sizzler on Ala Moana, Honolulu (Waikiki), HI used to have one of the best breakfasts on O`ahu, but that was many decades ago.


                                                                                                              2. I'd just go to a different restaurant..or order something else.

                                                                                                                1. This happened to me in Toronto, when I was extremely hungry, only here they didn't even tell me that they only serve well-done. Needless to say, my mood only worsened as I attempted to dip the tire into as much mayo and dijon as I could to try to make it palatable (I got through about 1/4 of the hockey puck). Never again. I'd order something else or leave.

                                                                                                                  I know it's the law in many places, but shouldn't people simply take responsibility for their weak systems instead of making the rest of us suffer?

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: Caralien

                                                                                                                    "shouldn't people simply take responsibility for their weak systems instead of making the rest of us suffer"
                                                                                                                    ah, a logical thought, but totally out of line in the nanny state.