OK, I promise to stop blogging about the "obamaburger heard around the world."  So, why did Obama order his and Joe’s burgers medium well (arguably cooked) and ordered the press’s medium (clearly undercooked)?  Also, can anyone find a thermometer?

  • D. L. Whitehead

    What constitutes a specific degree of doneness and the consequent temperature is certainly debatable and likely variable.
    If one is to assume a temperature of 150 degrees F. for Medium, 155 degrees F. for Medium Well and 160 degrees F. for Well Done, it is entirely possible to achieve a presumed E-coli-safe burger for each of these degrees of doneness.
    Of course the public health model recommendation of 160 degrees F. is not based entirely on science. Lethality is actually based an a time/temperature relationship–dwell times.
    If my thinking is correct, 150 degrees maintained for 72 seconds will give you a 7log-10 lethality (Medium). Maintaining a temperature of 155 degrees F. for 23 seconds will result in a 7log-10 lethality (Medium Well). And, 160 degrees F. instantaneously yields a 7log-10 lethality (Well Done). [If this is wrong, please point me to correct information.]
    Achieving these parameters requires good technique and accurate temperature measurement. Hard to do, but not impossible.
    I’m more worried about Ray’s Hell Burger, a.k.a. Butcher Burger, receiving a violation for handling RTE food with their bare hands. I see no problem with bare hand use as long as the hands are cleaned adequately to prevent cross-contamination. My personal observations of relying on single-use gloves for handling food shows all to often that his presumed safeguard is frequently abused. The last time I ate at the hamburger chain (years ago), I observed a person assembling orders with gloved hands. There, apparently, was no one dedicated to the grill at that moment. The gloved order-assembler went to the grill and placed raw meat on the grill with their gloved hands and immediately went back to assembling orders. There was no changing of the gloves.
    Once, one of my students was working in a bakery for his laboratory experience. He wore gloves. I observed him repeatedly pushing his glasses back up on his nose. I took him to a mirror and showed him that he had pretty much floured his nose. The gloves did not insure proper food handling.
    Multiple times, I have observed workers in sub-type sandwich shops preparing food and taking cash payment with gloved hands and failing to change gloves between actions.
    These are just three–rather easily understandable examples–of many such failures of gloved-hand use.
    This type of abuse of gloved hands is all to frequent for me based upon my observations. I’d much rather see bare hands cleaned as needed along with the proper use of utensils than rely on gloved hands along with the proper use of utensils.

  • Marymary

    Gloved or ungloved, food service workers don’t wash their hands. My observations have been that gloves are often used when they don’t need to be used to impress consumers, such as on a cafeteria line when spoons and other utensils are always used to serve the foods; that gloves are misused with little or no handwashing or glove changing as stated above; and that bare or gloved hands are used when clearly another utensil would be appropriate, such as using hands to put hot French fries on a plate or in a basket–ouch! There seems to be no sense, common or otherwise, when it comes to glove use.