What’s better than a juicy burger hot off the grill?

A juicy burger cooked to a safe 160°F.

Learn more good:

Thermometer knows best.

When you hear about Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) outbreaks in the news, be aware. Common health risks associated with STEC include stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Not good. These risks, along with more severe consequences, can be avoided in ground beef by properly preparing your patties and cooking each one to a safe 160°F.

The only way to know if your burgers are done is by using a digital thermometer.

  • Ensure the thermometer is properly cleaned and sanitized before each use.
  • Insert the thermometer through the side of the patty into its center.

  • Cook all ground beef patties to 160°F before consumption.

The quick and the dirty.

E. coli gets in where it fits in, typically within the intestinal tracts of people and animals. Most E.coli doesn’t cause sickness or disease because it’s non-pathogenic. But, not all E. coli plays so nicely. And, unfortunately, ground beef may contain Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC).

That’s why meal preparers across the country use good food safety practices every day to ensure their ground beef patties are as safe as they are delicious to eat.

Be aware of STEC.

STEC has been on food scientists’ radar for about 40 years, which is why we all know how to prepare ground beef safely using good food prep and cooking practices like the four C’s. That said, it’s also good to know about the consequences that can come along with consuming ground beef patties that may not have been properly prepared, cooked and stored.

Food, like ground beef or leafy greens, flour and water can be contaminated by STEC through direct contact with animals or animal feces. Shiga toxin causes blood vessel damage that can lead to hemorrhagic colitis—bloody diarrhea—and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS can lead to a variety of health issues such as kidney failure and blindness. STEC is the number one cause of acute kidney failure in children. In addition to the young, elderly and/or immuno-compromised individuals and pregnant women are at the greatest risk for serious STEC-related complications. Thankfully, all of us can and should use food safety practices when preparing the ground beef patties we love to eat and share with family and friends.

Horseshoes and hand grenades: the only places close counts.

Ground beef must be cooked all the way to 160°F to kill STEC. Low-dose STEC consumption—as little as two cells—is enough to make someone ill. And, depending on that person’s susceptibility and amount of contaminated food consumed, the effects can be life threatening. STEC contaminates are destroyed once a ground beef patty reaches an internal temperature of 160°F.

Dig into more juicy facts and stories about STEC and food safety from these sources:

The Four C’s of Food Safety

Want to cook a delicious ground beef burger the safe way? Of course you do!

160°F is Good Video

It’s all fun and games until potential health risks becomes a risky reality for you and your family. There are plenty of assumptions and myths out there when it comes to food safety. Don’t believe the hype—no matter how convenient or convincing it may be.

As you go to fire up the grill or pan fry some juicy ground beef patties this summer, remember: use a digital thermometer to be sure your burgers are cooked to a safe 160°F.

In the struggle between good and bad, is food safety your guide?


Do you have questions or some good feedback? Let’s hear it!