Joe Moore appeared to be mistaken when he told his audience that you shouldn't eat hamburger that is very pink to still red on the inside, but that it was ok to eat a steak rare to medium rare. That sounds like an oxymoron, one of those things that don't seem logical or possible.
"It's all in understanding how meat cooks and the difference in hamburger and steak," says Moore, executive director of the Indiana Beef Cattlemen's Association. He also spent a good part of his career in the meat business, including several years as a butcher in a meat department. Joe Moore knows meats!
Moore says if someone brings out a hamburger off the grill, or out of the frying pan, and there is still meat juice pooling on top, "I'm going to ask them to take it back and cook it longer." Moore insists it's not being rude – it's playing it safe.
"Hamburger is ground and has a large amount of surface area," he explains. "Steak is muscle with much less surface area. You need to make sure that ground meat with more surface area to carry bacteria is cooked properly."
If you press down on a burger on the grill and red juice still comes out, it's not done on the inside. "You need to keep cooking it," he says.
The real threat is E. coli bacteria and the sicknesses they can cause, he says. There have been outbreaks in the past linked to the bacteria and undercooked meat. Nearly every time it is undercooked hamburger that traces back as the culprit.
Hamburger can be pinkish and flavorful, he says. "You just don't want to be eating it raw," Moore continues. "You need to make sure there was enough heating and cooking to kill any possible bacteria that might be in the hamburger."