By Russ and Tiña De Maris
It was J. Wellington Wimpy, Popeye’s sidekick, who oft pled: “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” Hard-luck Wimpy was rarely rewarded with such a request and so, to get the lunch he so desired, may have turned to the grill.
Wimpy isn’t alone. Face it — who among us mortal men can simply refuse a burger? There’s just something so tempting, so tantalizing, so downright tasty about a chunk of ground beef in a bun, slathered with mayo, pickles, tomato, lettuce, onions — I digress. But before you slap the beef on the bun, oh traveling burgermeister, it’s best to make sure your culinary creation meets the standard of safety.
Beware the wanton deviant in this drama. Illness, thy name is O157:H7 (among others) — aka, E. coli. This irreverent bacteria is no respecter of age, status or social standing. The nasty little bug, and friends of his, can lay low, even kill off an unsuspecting slurper-up of undercooked ground beef. And pushing on your patty with a paddle won’t tell you if the burger is safe to eat.
The answer: Invest in a simple meat cooking thermometer. The “instant tell” digital, available for around $10, can make your life at the grill sweeter and safer. Just poke the tip of the thermometer in the side of the burger and run the probe down to the center point of the patty. If it reads less than 160 degrees, keep cooking. Once the 160 point is reached, those dastardly bacteria are gone. Chomp away, Wimp!
photo: U.S. Government.