- Internal cooking temperatures vary among different types of burgers – traditional ground beef, plant-based, turkey, and others – to ensure food safety against foodborne illnesses.
- Overcooking can be an issue especially with lean meat alternatives. Paying attention to visual cues such as browning can help determine the readiness of the burgers.
- Cross-contamination prevention is crucial while preparing and cooking diverse food items. Use separate utensils and cutting boards for produce and meats, including uncooked plant-based burgers.
The highlight of the summer grilling season, Memorial Day, often revolves around outdoor feasts that consist of delightful alternatives to traditional proteins. One must ensure, however, that food safety is prioritised to protect guests from foodborne illnesses.
Expert Advice on Safe Cooking Temperatures
Joyful cookouts can quickly turn into disasters due to inaccurate cooking temperatures, especially when grilling alternative food items like plant-based or turkey burgers that may be unfamiliar to us. Luckily, a food science expert provides some essential food safety tips to avert such unpleasant incidents.
Melissa Wright, the director of the Food Producer Technical Assistance Program from the Department of Food Science and Technology, shares her wisdom on the subject. “The right cooking temperature varies among different styles of burgers,” Wright mentions. “For instance, traditional ground beef burgers should reach an internal temperature of 160° F or 71° C.”
Safe Internal Temperatures for Different Burgers
Wright further elaborates, emphasizing the importance of observing the proper internal temperature for each type of burger to avoid any risks of foodborne illnesses. For ground turkey or chicken, an internal temperature of 165° F is ideal.
Plant-based meat alternatives such as Impossible burgers, made with soy protein, or Beyond Burgers, which are primarily pea protein-based, should also be cooked to achieve an internal cook of 160° F. However, other options like Morningstar Farms burgers including chickpea protein or Black Bean burgers require a preferred internal temperature of 165° F. Similarly, ground bison burgers also need to reach 160° F, while ground elk and salmon should possess an internal temperature of 145° F.
Wright extends her advice to cooking the burgers just right by stating, “Take your burgers off the grill and examine their internal temperature in a couple of minutes to prevent overcooking, as food continues to cook despite being removed from heat.”
Be Mindful of Cooking Plant-based Proteins
“Since meat alternatives are much leaner than traditional beef, it can be common to overcook them if you’re used to regular grilling”, remarks Wright. “Being attentive to visual cues such as browning can help gauge when to check burgers for readiness.”
Prevention of Cross-Contamination
It’s critical to avoid contamination even with foods that don’t require a specific internal temperature, such as portobella caps and cauliflower steaks. Wright underlines the importance of using different utensils and cutting boards for produce and meats. “This principle should also be applied to uncooked plant-based burgers during pre-grilling prep,” she advises.
For more comprehensive information on foodborne germs and diseases, please refer to the advice by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which can be found here