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Mar 24, 2011 12:08 PM

What is the deal with the "doneness" rules in the Triangle?

I have asked for med-rare at a bunch of places. I am sometimes told they can only do med/med-well which means no pink basically. They say it's a local rule but then some places will cook to any doneness. Anyone know what this stems from?

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  1. For ground meat, it's state law. There are some places that will cook a burger to a lower temp, but it's a risk most restaurants will not take. For steaks and roasts, I'm not aware of any county/municipal regulations, and state law allows for med-rare.

    8 Replies
    1. re: mpjmph

      If the restaurant grinds the meat itself, it will sell you the burger rare or medium rare.

      1. re: LulusMom

        There have been some other discussions on this topic. The general rule is that ground meat has to be cooked to a certain temperature. As I understand it, there is no similar rule as to minimum temperature for steaks. As LulusMom notes, some restaurants that grind their own meat interpret this as generally permitting those that grind their own meat to be able to serve at less than medium under the premise that they could serve that same meat at less than medium if it had not been ground (i.e., the rule should only apply to ground meat of unknown / mixed origin). I don't think the law makes that technical distinction but there is some basis for thinking ground meat is safer when it does not come from multiple external sources. Folks that think that is not fair, especially in light of raw seafood and other potential food borne dangers may be right but some caution not to press the issue for fear that the health department might even things up by tightening the rules on oyster bars, etc. rather than loosening up on the ground meat.

        1. re: Guilty Gourmand

          yeah, it doesn't make the distinction between 'ground-on-site' beef:

          15A NCAC 18A .2609(e):

          (e) Potentially hazardous foods requiring cooking shall be cooked to heat all parts of the food to a temperature of at least 140° F (60° C) except as follows:
          (1) poultry, poultry stuffings, stuffed meats, and stuffings containing meat shall be cooked to heat all parts of the food to at least 165° F (74°C) with no interruption of the cooking process,
          (2) pork and any food containing pork shall be cooked to heat all parts of the food to at least 150° F(66° C),
          (3) ground beef and foods containing ground beef shall be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 155° F (68° C),
          (4) roast beef shall be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 130° F (54° C), and
          (5) beef steak shall be cooked to a temperature of 130° F (54° C) unless otherwise ordered by the immediate consumer.

          1. re: cervisiam

            There is a specific reference to this point on the Bull City Burger & Brewery website menu --- and they grind all their own stuff:


            They specifically note the following on the bottom of the menu:

            "**In the great state of North Carolina you can have your burger cooked any temperature you like as long as it’s at least 155º F - It’s a myth that if you grind your beef you can cook it rare! Bummer.."

            1. re: ToothTooth

              Exactly. There are places that will cook burgers to less than 155, but they're taking a (calculated) risk. More power to them, but I don't expect it of any restaurant.\

              Edit to add - taking a risk with regard to health dept regulations. I don't think eating high quality/single source rare beef is terribly risky for healthy adults.

              1. re: mpjmph

                After arguing that you could serve a MR burger if you ground your own beef, I called Raleigh to clear this up. According to the guy I talked to, all burgers must be cooked to 155. On top of that, steak tartare and carpaccio are not currently legal in North Carolina. This is completely absurd and the idiots that make up these rules should be stopped. The NCRLA currently has a petition I would encourage everyone to sign, and the guy I spoke with told me to right a letter in support of relaxing these beef regulations. We should bombard the environmental health department with letters until this is changed.

                1. re: veganhater

                  Completely idiotic. I can think of a particular restaurant (one I like very much, so I will not name it) that served steak tartare, has it on the menu.

                  1. re: veganhater

                    "This is completely absurd and the idiots that make up these rules should be stopped."
                    Agree - these rules are completely absurd.