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Where's My Bloody Burger?

Saw a blurb on Dr. Oz about the nasties in cow-harvesting-assemby-line burger meat. The guest expert was ringing a large alarm bell regarding pink-to-red burgers. Burgers that are not "overcooked" are the rage right now.

Now, I am sure that many chowhounders know the names of the cows that they eat. (Exaggeration) Seriously, I sometimes go to a butcher that takes more care about the beef they sell and their burger is yum and I don't cook burgers from them all the way through.

But do you really trust all restaurants to be that careful with their sourcing? Or do you say "medium-rare, please" and hope for the best?

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  1. <But do you really trust all restaurants to be that careful with their sourcing? Or do you say "medium-rare, please" and hope for the best?>

    Short answer: Yes, I just trust them for whatever reasons. It is in my nature I suppose.

    P.S.: I don't order medium rare because it is rage. I did that as young as I remember. Either medium rare or medium.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Same here. I've always been a medium rare burger orderer, and I've never gotten sick from doing it.

      1. re: juliejulez

        Yeah, I have never gotten sick from it. Maybe it is luck. No, it is not because I am super strong or anything, since I have had food poison 3-4 times in my life, but none has to do with hamburger.

    2. I don't care how trendy medium rare is, I think the texture is crap. Well done for me, please.

      1. No, I don't trust them.
        I don't order many burgers from restaurants anyway. Much better at home....made to order ;)

        1. I love a medium rare steak, but I think a medium burger tastes best.

          2 Replies
          1. Eating undercooked ground meat out anywhere is foolish. Why would you take that risk?

            5 Replies
            1. re: Samalicious

              What is the difference between eating a medium rare hamburger and a rare steak??

              1. re: PotatoHouse

                with a steak any pathogens would be on the outside of the meat and get killed by brief cooking. with ground meat the pathogens get introduced into the center where rare or medium rare cooking won't kill them.

                1. re: PotatoHouse

                  eating a rare hamburger is much more dangerous than eating a rare steak because of the increased surface area.

                  eating steak tartare at an upscale restaurant is less risky than eating a medium rare hamburger at a burger place. with steak tartare they will likely have fresh-ground from the muscle right before serving, which is much safer than using prepackaged ground meat.

                2. re: Samalicious

                  Because hamburger cooked more than medium rare (i prefer extra-rare, but can deal w/ med-rare) tastes like cardboard and is not worth the time or the calories.

                  So yeah, I pays my money and i takes my chances. And I am not aware that rare burgers are any more or less trendy now than ever, on the contrary, it seems to me i hear a lot more hand-wringing about the danger these days.

                  i don't worry about shellfish either, although I do attempt to avoid eating in restaurants that I think are likely to poison me, regardless of what kind of food it is.

                3. <But do you really trust all restaurants>


                  1. A few years ago Mike Colameco did a hamburger-focused episode, and he mentioned that one hamburger patty could contain meat from 100 different animals. I have not had a hamburger at a restaurant since.
                    This Frontline piece is frightening and disgusting, but worth a read. From the article:

                    “A single patty may mingle the meat of a hundred different animals from four different countries. Or, looked at from another perspective, a single contaminated carcass shredded for hamburger can pollute eight tons of finished ground beef.”

                    1. I'll tell them "Damn near raw" and I've never had a problem.Back in the 40's - 50's when my mother would make meatloaf or burgers I would always taste a chunk to make sure it was seasoned properly.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: mucho gordo

                        in the 50's and 60's i used to eat raw hamburger sandwiches (on rye bread with butter and salt.) but meat processing back then was entirely different than it is now. i'm not sure that raw is any more dangerous than rare or medium rare, and I do like a medium rare burger, but I eat it knowing full well it could be trouble. and I don't assume the meat i buy from the store is any safer than that in the restaurant. its not the contamination from the practices in the restaurant that are the issue, its the source of the meat, and as recent events in europe have shown very clearly, no one is 100% sure where the meat comes from or how it has been handled.

                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                          I know that in CA it is difficult to get a rare piece of meat yet many places still serve tartare which also contains raw egg. Go figure.
                          I stopped going to BK because I couldn't "have it my way".

                          1. re: mucho gordo

                            I've never gotten ill from a burger either. At first I wondered if it was because I have eaten raw or rare beef from an early age and acquired some level of resistance. Internet research says no, BUT people who's mother's ate raw beef may have some resistance. Other research of course contradicts this. I know for a fact that my mother, her mother, and her mother all ate raw beef, so maybe thats what saves me. I do know I don't push the odds as much as I used to.

                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                              You haven't gotten ill because it's rare. It's rare because when someone gets food poisoning from hamburger, health authorities move quickly to contain it. But in 1993, 600 people got ill from hamburger at a fast-food chain, 144 were hospitalized, and three children died. Restaurants often refuse to cook hamburger less than medium not because food poisoning is common, but because when it happens the consequences can be extremely serious

                      2. The "Where's..." got my attention. I am a fan of Medium rare burgers, and so many places will not make them that way. I try to keep in mind certain places where they will make my burger the way I like. I think I get a hamburger "craving" about once a month.

                        [Side note: I started a thread last week asking advice on grilling "juicy" burgers. Here I am, the Medium rare fan, and can't make a burger "my way" in my own backyard- well, I got some Chowhound advice and that may change.]

                        Now, whatever they do to get a White Castle slider to the customer at the counter- that is heaven! And I'm sure it isn't even "medium rare." Of course I trust White Castle with their "sourcing." Long-standing life experience, nostalgia, and traditions say I have to.

                        1. I like my steaks and burgers medium rare. Always have and have never had an issue. And I do remember in the 70s and 80s, eating raw hamburger from the grocery store was no big deal. I don't eat totally raw ground beef now, but am absolutely not worried about medium rare.

                          1. actually, the "trend" seems to be moving towards flat patties, which are cooked through. don't care for them.

                            i eat burgers out a few times per month and order them mr. if a place won't cook it that way? than i know better to be eating anything at all in the place.

                            i eat oysters and shellfish out all the time too.

                            have had food poisoning 3 times, twice i did it to myself, and once from a boss' cook-out. i was a vegetarian at the time and ate only the traditional indian food his wife had made. didn't touch the burgers or hot dogs. didn't matter. everybody that went to the party got insanely sick. the hosts, btw? both doctors.

                            eta: i will not, not eat fast-food burgers. ever.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              Boy, I agree on the fast food burgers. It's been decades since we went down that road.

                              Yes, another trend is the flat, or "smashed" burger. I see both the rare and the smashed in my area.

                              Food poisoning sucks. Funny that they were doctors. Makes sense to me, though.

                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                Worst food poisoning of my life was at a 4-star hotel in India. After 3 months of only Indian food, I was hankering for a hamburger. After the next 3 weeks going only between the bed and the bathroom (Indian style, natch), became a vegetarian for the next 20 years. Truly.

                                Now, I'm back to meat, but order medium burgers out, a little rarer at home.

                                1. re: pine time

                                  holy moly. a hamburger in india? are you a professional rodeo clown who goes volcano-diving to blow off steam?

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    nah, just (at the time) a naive 25 year old who thought "4 star hotel" meant safe food handling. Expensive lesson learned!

                              2. I like my beef mooing. I love Steak Tartare. I order burgers extremely rare.

                                That said: My father always taught me that you ONLY order hamburger at a place that sells lots of steak. They stake their reputation on the quality of the beef (pardon the pun). This sage advice has served me well for almost 60 years.

                                Pick the right restaurant and you don't have to 'hope for the best.'
                                Ordering a hamburger or chopped steak in a run of the mill restaraunt is a crap shoot.

                                1. i worry less about getting a bloody burger than i worry about being able to get a bloody mary, but that it ot. sorry.

                                  1. I know two things. (A) I'm gonna die someday, and (B) I'd prefer that to an overcooked burger.

                                    1. If I'm eating a reasonably thick burger I do go pink. If I'm eating a smashed diner burger with that beautiful lacy, crispy, dark caramelized crust I go with however they give it to me. Usually quite done. Same way if I'm cooking for myself. Have yet to been sick off a burger.

                                      1. i didn't realize this was trendy. i've been ordering medium rare since forever. I have noticed at certain chains, they won't cook a burger less than medium. and i'm always bummed. so i thought the trend was in the other direction.

                                        1. I only order M/R burgers at a few places. One place grinds their own every day and their kitchen is spotless & the others buy extremely high quality CAB burgers.

                                          At home, mostly grind my own or get it from a trusted source who grinds from hanging meat scraps. He will eat it raw in front of you.

                                          1. Who cares about food safety when the texture of rare ground beef is disgusting… pasty fat and slimy meat. The best burgers are made diner-style: pressed into a flattop and griddled to a well-done crisp to maximize the crunchy crust.

                                            Give me medium rare steaks and crispy well-done burgers.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                              I don't mean to yuck your yum, but, yuck.

                                              1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                I would agree with rare which is pretty close to raw in the center. M/R though is fully cooked and should not have that pasty raw texture. Fine line but big difference.