I do my steak in a heavy-bottomed pan on the stovetop for a couple of minutes a side on high heat and it comes out just as I like it - medium rare.

Before cooking, I usually remove the steak from the fridge and let it come up to room temperature. Yesterday I was in a hurry and didn't do that. The steak was done perfectly, but the middle was cold to the touch. Is it still safe to eat if the temperature in the middle is still cold?

It looked between Rare and Medium Rare on this image below:

Doneness - http://chicolockersausage.com/2012/01/27/fun-meat-fact-friday-internal-temperatures-and-meat-me-updates/

image source

  • I searched pretty hard before posting this and saw this question :cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/9/… but it didn't say if it's safe outside those temperatures. – user17950 Sep 27 '16 at 9:24
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    If it was cold to the touch, then it was not med-rare. The pictures are a visual guide only, and color/redness will vary a lot for cut and individual piece of meat. The actual cook is by temp. Edibility is by quality of the meat and temperature. The lower quality, the more likely there could be bacteria or other pathogens that need higher temps to kill. – dlb Sep 27 '16 at 15:22

Solid meat (such as a roast or steak) can be quite rare on the inside and still be considered safe by conservative government or academic standards. Solid meat is different from ground meat because bacteria (Salmonella and E. coli are of particular concern) get mixed into the meat from the surface when the meat is ground. When you sear a steak, you effectively clean the surface where the potential bacteria live.

Those same conservative standards don't recognize rare (as in cold) as safe. However, steak tartare and other raw beef is served in restaurants all over the world.

Source Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

According to the same extremely conservative source:

the meat needs to reach 145°F internally and stand for three or more minutes before cutting or consuming. Unfortunately, even if preferred by foodies, there's no way to guarantee the safety of rare meat. That also means raw meat delights, like steak tartare or beef carpaccio, are not considered safe.

I have many years of experience eating very rare and sometimes raw beef. If the meat is fresh and from a reliable source, I have no problem eating it very rare.

The standard caveat applies that extra care (and heat) is required for the immunocompromised or pregnant.

You should be fine. Keep in mind that steak can be eaten raw as in steak tartare or yukhoe, and some people like their steak barely seared on the outside, ie cooked blue.

Foodborne illnesses are killed by heat, generally the guidelines would be that in order to be completely safe you'd have to heat meat up to 160F, in other words well done. 125F (medium rare) is nowhere near warm enough to make food safe, yet we eat it that way all the time because it's low risk. With steak most of the time the dangerous bacteria is on the outside, and is killed very quickly by high heat. Poking steak before the outside has been cooked enough can carry bacteria to the center of the meat where it will not be killed by cooking, so it may be worth avoiding doing that if you can.

So it's safe to eat, but may not be warm enough for your taste. In the future I would suggest cooking to temperature rather than time as there are too many factors (meat thickness, starting temperature, pan temperature, air temperature, bone in or out, cut, etc) in cooking steak for time to give a consistent result.

  • Thanks - I had a bite and it was a bit too cold for my liking. I eventually just put it back on the stove for a min or so to bring it up to temperature. It ended up being a bit more medium than I'd like but lesson learned! – user17950 Sep 27 '16 at 9:27
  • Glad to hear you got something edible out of it. – GdD Sep 27 '16 at 9:28

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