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I have seen many record state a burger can be served a little pink. Even 'medium'. I understand what this means.

My question is about food safety: Is this also safe if the patty was a mix of beef and pork?

I can use common sense and predict if there was only 1% pork, then it is probably safe, but assuming the meat comes from a supermarket and is a 50:50 mix, is it recommended to cook this well done?

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    Why would you think it wouldn't count if there was only a little bit of pork? How many parasites do you think you need to become infected with, in order to be infected with parasites?
    – Sneftel
    Nov 11 at 7:46
  • Good safety about food is good.
    – vasin1987
    Nov 11 at 21:08
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    @Sneftel well that logic works for covid. Higher viral load -> higher chance of infection. I’m surprised as to why it’s not the case for parasites?
    – Tim
    Nov 12 at 0:46
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    If pork should not be served medium then how would adding ground beef make medium pork safe? Additionally, the ground beef touches the pork directly so the ground beef is no longer safe at medium.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Nov 12 at 15:37
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    @JPhi1618 It might be a good question for Medical Sciences; it's off-topic here. Briefly, though, there is the concept of an "infectious dose", and it is very different between viruses and parasites. ("Load" is a different thing.}
    – Sneftel
    Nov 12 at 19:50
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In most developed countries trichinosis is extreme rare, this is due to changes in the way pigs are raised. In the US there were only 16 cases reported between 2011-2015, for example, and in Europe the rates are similar. This means that you could serve pork completely raw with extremely low risk from a trichinosis point of view.

In a 50/50 beef-pork burger you have an equal amount of risk from the beef as the pork due to e coli bacteria, the meat really doesn't matter. Safety guidelines are to cook ground meats of any kind to 70°C/160°F, which is well done. As to whether you follow that guideline is up to you, millions or people have their burgers pink in the middle and it's rare anyone gets sick so the risk is small, but it's still there. Whether you take that chance is personal choice.

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    There is a German dish (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mett) that is just raw ground pork. Nov 11 at 17:02
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    @DanielDarabos And it kills people every year, and makes many more sick. Nov 11 at 18:01
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    Uh, I didn't know that. Thanks. quarks.de/gesundheit/ernaehrung/… says 32 people died in Germany from Listeria in 2018. (It's not clear to me whether they all got it from Mett.) Nov 11 at 18:18
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    @nick012000 uh, nope? Many Germany butchers sell Mettbrötchen and and that’s perfectly legal (if proper handling is ensured). Customers are assumed to know the risk.
    – Stephie
    Nov 12 at 8:03
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    At least in the US, it's become common to add a disclaimer about the risks of eating raw or undercooked foods to the menu regardless of what's on the menu.
    – chepner
    Nov 12 at 13:48
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Sure you can! I think you're conflating two aspects of cooking meat here:

  • Doneness: whether your meat turns out rare or well-done depends on the maximum temperature the meat is cooked at.

  • Food safety: this is a function of both cooking time and temperature.

To combine the two, you can have a food safe burger cooked rare if it's cooked at a low enough temperature for the meat to stay rare and at a high enough temperature (for enough time) to kill most bacteria.

GdD is right that a burger through at 70°C/160°F is food safe. Most of the bacteria will die within seconds at that temperature. Using the technique, however, it's quite easy to get a food-safe medium doneness by cooking the burger at a lower temperature (say 57°C/135°F) for a little over an hour (see the time temperature chart for pasteurization on Serious Eats, for example).

Pasteurization times at lower temperatures might be inconvenient, but even then you can kill many bacteria in a few hours and still have a rare burger.

By rapidly cooling the burger after the sous vide step and reheating it in the pan (on the grill / under the broiler) you can have your desired doneness and a nice reaction on the outside with minimal risk. In that example the cooling step ensure that you don't overcook the inside of the burger when you give the outside a good sear.

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  • The general technique of gradual cooking and then searing the outside at the end for flavour is called the "reverse sear". (At least when applied to steak, where it was traditional to sear first, and then finish it.) Nov 12 at 9:19
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I wouldn't say it's a 'daft question'. Some markets do sell pre-mixed ground pork-and-beef mixtures intended primarily for meatballs or meatloaf, so it's reasonable to wonder if that mix can be used for burgers, too, but there are too many variables not accounted for.

The problem is that we have no way of knowing what standards the hypothetical market in the question meets. Is it located in a country where trichinosis is all but extinct, like the US or Germany, or a country where pigs are still raised in pits of mud and feces? Do the market's butchers practice safe meat-handling?

In the best of all worlds, you could eat both pork and beef completely raw and be perfectly safe. In our world, pigs raised in filth may well have parasites including trichinosis. Cattle do not normally harbor anything harmful to humans, though there was the "mad cow" outbreak a couple of decades ago, but people can be disgusting in their lack of hygiene, so there is still risk.

Then there are the definitions. What is 'medium'? The worst trichinosis infection will be neutralized once the meat reaches 155F, but that is essentially medium-well and the USDA, which only cares about safety and not edibility, recommends 160F for GROUND beef, pork, veal, and lamb. They recommend 165F for ground chicken/turkey.

It's worth noting that even the USDA no longer recommends cooking solid cuts of pork till it's petrified. While they don't give a recommendation for Rare, they do specify a temperature of 145F for Medium-Rare Pork (or beef, lamb, veal, etc.). Ground meat is always more risky than solid cuts, but that's a different question.

But, then you say "a Burger can be served a little pink. Even 'medium'. I understand what this means." I don't think you do. Medium is a little pink. Medium-Rare is pink-to-red, but warm in the center. Rare is red and cool in the center. They are ALL SAFE if prepared correctly.

The mania for warning people away from 'under-cooked' burgers is due to our lawsuit-crazed culture, not food safety. The safety risk is due to people not washing their hands properly and not keeping their cook stations clean, not due to inherent risks from the meat. Cooking burgers till they become hockey pucks does render them harmless, and employers know that they suck at enforcing safe practices in their kitchens, so they shift the risk/blame to the customers.

If you trim and grind your own meat at home, and practice safe standards, you're perfectly safe in cooking your pork-and-beef burger Medium-Rare, which is how all burgers are at their best. But I wouldn't recommend it with the store-bought mix. Save that for your meatballs.

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    It isn't uncommon for meat to be mechanically tenderized, which will pose a risk of contamination even if you trim the cut and grind it yourself. Of course it's a very small risk, but non-zero.
    – eps
    Nov 12 at 21:30
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    @eps - True, but nothing we do is literally zero-risk. It's 'perfectly safe' in the same sense as lying in bed is 'perfectly safe', ignoring the minuscule possibility that you may still be killed by a meteorite strike, earthquake, or building collapse, and so on. It's all about the risk:reward ratio.
    – DaveInAZ
    Nov 12 at 21:46

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