How to Barbecue a Safe Burger

Many of us will be barbecuing in the upcoming summer months; steaks, chicken, fish, pork and lots of hamburgers.  Did you know, eating undercooked ground beef  may result in a type of food poisoning commonly referred to as hamburger disease?

The medical name for hamburger disease is Haemorrhagic Colitis. This disease is a type of
food poisoning caused by a bacteria called E.coli 0157:H7. Also known as just E.coli, it can be found in many foods including meat, and especially in ground beef.


  • At the grocery store, pack raw meat separately from other products.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling any raw food – especially meat, poultry and seafood;
  • Use hot soapy water to clean all surfaces (refrigerators, counters, dishes, utensils, thermometers, etc) that come in contact with raw meat.
  • Make burger patties thin so they cook all the way through.
  • Do not let ready-to-eat foods like lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, etc. come into contact with raw meat or its juices.
  • Pre-heat the gas barbecue before cooking. If using a charcoal barbecue, use enough charcoal and wait until it is glowing red before starting to cook.

Are the burgers ready yet?

  • Your beef burger is done when its internal temperature reaches 71°C (160°F;
  • Colour alone is not a reliable indicator that a burger is safe to eat — burgers can turn brown before all bacteria are killed.
  • Reduce the heat or raise the height of the grill if food starts to burn during cooking — remember it’s the internal temperature of the patty that is important;
  • Make sure all patties are ready! If you are cooking more than one, take the temperature in several of the thickest patties.
  • Remove the patty from the grill and insert the thermometer through the side, all the way to the middle of the patty.
  • Keep on cooking! Continue cooking your burgers if any reading is less than 71°C(160°F).
  • Remember to wash the thermometer between temperature measurements;
  • Oven-safe meat thermometers designed for testing whole poultry and roasts during cooking are not suitable for measuring the temperature of beef patties.
  • Use clean utensils and plates when removing cooked meats from the heat source.
Information contained in this post was obtained from Health Canada and Yukon Healthguide.


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