US: Should there be a hamburger cooking law?
Posted: June 7th, 2012 - 4:16pm
That is basically what Dr. Jay Wenther, executive director of the American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP), asked for at the latest Conference for Food Protection (CFP).
The CFP has no authority. But it is an organization with clout that consists of state and local agencies involved in food safety, food industry leaders, consumer organizations, academia, etc.
The mission of the CFP is “promoting food safety and consumer protection.” (Emphasis added)
If the CFP likes a proposal, it will then forward the recommendation to the FDA for consideration of including it in the Food Code.
AAMP recommended amending the “FDA Food Code to add a statement that disallows food service/restaurants from serving undercooked ground beef product to consumers.”
The 5 page proposal can be seen in its entirety at here. Click on View issues. It is listed under Council III, item 15.
Despite the best efforts of the beef industry, currently all raw ground beef cannot be guaranteed to be sterile.
Too many restaurants ask you how you would like your hamburger cooked, hiding behind the protection from law suits that is provided by the Consumer Advisory required by the FDA’s Food Code that tells you there is increased risk from eating raw or undercooked animal foods.
AAMP had a great idea that if you could not get an undercooked hamburger at your favorite restaurant, perhaps the message would sink in that you should also use a meat thermometer at home. I agree.
The Food Code already says that a burger on the Kids’ Menu must be cooked to at least 160 degrees.
AAMP wanted the Food Code to be amended to say all ground beef must be cooked to 160 degrees. Great idea, AAMP.
But it was decided by the Conference for Food Protection that the topic was too “impractical to implement.” Bad idea, CFP.
What about your mission of “consumer protection”?
USDA says E coli O157:H7 is a serious threat to our health, and industry does everything they can to reduce its presence, but the CFP won’t even consider forwarding the request on to FDA. Why?
One council member said a mandatory cooking law might deter industry from its continued efforts to control E. coli O157:H7 at the production level, sounding a lot like some consumer groups on the irradiation issue. I disagree.
AAMP felt others should share the responsibility with the meat industry to make our burgers safe. I agree.
Another asked “What next? Sushi and Raw Oysters?”
CDC estimates nearly 200,000 are sickened by E coli organisms annually, and 600 from raw oysters. Big difference and a weak argument against change.
AAMP said in their presentation that 13 billion pounds of ground beef are consumed every year in America. Those servings represent a lot more opportunities, maybe 52 billion, to be exposed to a foodborne pathogen than from raw oyster consumption.
AAMP had a great idea to cut down foodborne illnesses by adding another layer of protection and educating consumers at the same time.
CFP dropped the ball. Game over.