“North Carolina’s Rare Burger Ban Makes Red Meat Illegal”

by Walter Olson on May 19, 2011

“From Winston-Salem to Nags Head, meat eaters are unable to order their burgers rare or even medium rare thanks to a state restriction that requires restaurants to cook ground beef to an internal temperature of 155 degrees Fahrenheit.” [Ben Muessig, AOL, related]


1 Scott Jacobs 05.19.11 at 7:52 am

Well I’m never ordering anything with meet in it in NC…

2 Scott Jacobs 05.19.11 at 7:52 am


“with meat”

3 John Bratt 05.19.11 at 8:09 am

Terrible to see the nanny state restricting consumers’ freedom of choice to risk E. Coli.

4 Bumper 05.19.11 at 8:58 am

You are probably at a higher risk of getting E. Coli from the lettuce than the meat, especially if it is bulk prepared and prepackaged by an outside vendor. Next thing you know chefs won’t be allowed to wear neckties to work.

5 LisaMarie 05.19.11 at 9:49 am

Lived in NC for quite a while. Man, I missed my med rare burger. John Bratt, while it’s true that undercooked burger is a risk factor for E. coli, I’m not sure the answer is this simple. I will be interested to see if tracking E. coli data shows that such laws make a difference. Since E. coli infection traceable specifically to burger is a relatively uncomm0n outcome, it may be difficult to tell with certainty.

6 GregS 05.19.11 at 10:03 am

… and the infantilization of the American people continues, with yet another small freedom of choice taken away, because of a miniscule risk that all previous generations were, and all other present-day peoples still are perfectly competent to deal with.

7 John 05.19.11 at 11:16 am

I think this is absurd! I live in NC and have been ordering burgers from some establishments medium rare for years and they are wonderful. The few that i could order it medium rare, grind their own meat on premises which i think should still be allowed to cook them to order. The vast majority or contaminants come from the outside of the meat prior to grinding. This is why steaks are not affected by the ban. There should be an exemption for those who grind the meat on site.

8 mike 05.19.11 at 11:41 am

Let me guess…the table next to you and your gray hamburger can still order beef carpaccio with no problem.

9 steve mansfield 05.19.11 at 12:29 pm

As an atty. and reasonably intelligent adult I believe that I am capable of making my own decisions as to how I want my meat cooked and I resent self-appointed nannies many points below me on the IQ chart telling me what’s best for me. I bet some study will come out stating that cooking meat to well-done causes increased exposure to carcinogens from charbroiling so that will be banned, too. The people behind this latest example of big government nannyism are the same folks that want to ban soda, put speed governors in our vehicles and want to ban contact sports in our schools.

10 Jerry Vandesic 05.19.11 at 1:01 pm

Let me have my medium rare burger!!! I guess I’ll have to stick to seafood when we hit the outer banks next month.

If a restaurant wants to server a rare burger that should be their choice. Obviously that choice might have repurcussions if they serve a tainted burger, but still it should be their choice. I wonder though if the insurance industry would impact how this might work? A bad burger that injures someone would deservedly result in a lawsuit against the restaurant; would their insurance company require them to serve only well done burgers?

11 Bob Lipton 05.19.11 at 1:26 pm

I had tartar steak for lunch. Yum.


12 L Nettles 05.19.11 at 1:26 pm

gee, if they was only some magic ray that could kind bacteria in meat, eggs, spices and vegetables.

13 Mannie 05.19.11 at 1:53 pm

steve mansfield 05.19.11 at 12:29 pm

I bet some study will come out stating that cooking meat to well-done causes increased exposure to carcinogens from charbroiling so that will be banned, too.

There was a flab about that back in, what, the 80s? Don’t say it too loudly, or they’ll resurrect it.

“Here’s your burger. Steamed to just the right temperature, enzyme reduced to a healthy syrup, and metered to the correct amount for your social status. Bon appetite. “

14 captnhal 05.19.11 at 2:15 pm

Who will be assigned the task of entering the restaurant’s kitchen with a thermometer and sticking it into the middle of a burger someone is about to be served? How will we know that the top temperature of that burger wasn’t 155+ at a time other than when the thermometer was in use? That’s not very appetizing. It seems enforcement could be a problem.

15 Bumper 05.19.11 at 5:38 pm

The secret to consuming a rare hamburger and not getting sick is to float in a high concentration of an antiseptic solution post-mastication. I prefer a nice cold Abita Amber, but you may have an favorite from your local.

16 VMS 05.19.11 at 7:30 pm

135-140 degrees (medium rare) is hot enough to kill E.coli. That notwithstanding, an E.coli infection from undercooked meat is a rarity indeed, and it is not that bad to warrant any governmental intrusion. So what if on a blue moon someone gets the runs for a day.

17 John Burgess 05.19.11 at 9:05 pm

I don’t take E. coli lightly. Last year, I nearly died of an infection that permanently damaged my pancreas. My son, living on the other coast, came down with a case the year before and was hospitalized. It happens and it can kill. Neither of us have a clue about where it came from, but burgers could not have been the source of my son’s. He doesn’t eat them.

Nonetheless, there are risks and there are risks. Some we can choose to confront–like flying or driving or crossing the street. We can, as adults, take some risks with our diet, too. Cheeses made from raw milk; medium-rare, rare, or raw beef; oysters and other shellfish. None of them come with 100%-safe guarantees.

With something on the order of 40K people dying in traffic accidents annually, we don’t ban driving. Far fewer than that die of E. coli or cholera, or salmonella combined. Reducing the free choice is not protecting consumers, it’s just bossing them around. And making them eat crappy, overcooked meat.

18 Apelika 05.19.11 at 10:27 pm

Got news for people…11 years ago oI was in Charlotte, NC and tried to order a mediuim rare burger and almost was chased out of the place. For a bit I thought that I had two heads.. I just went with the flow and ate the overdone and tough piece of meat that was in the burger when it arrived.

19 ps 05.20.11 at 6:52 am

soon NC residents will be nipping over the state lines for a few of their favourite rare burgers and then nabbed by the meat police on their way back home. ‘Ma’am, kindly empty your stomach contents into this bag.’

20 bfs 05.21.11 at 10:12 am

@capnhal Restaurants will be tasked with buying expensive equipment t0 measure hamburger temperature. Many bureaucrats will be employed in designing the standards for certifying the equipment and standards for how temperature is to be measured, others will be hired to review the required reports to ensure restaurant compliance, lowering the unemployment rate and requiring increases in spending for vital governmental health services.

Remember, Tuesday is Soylent Green day!

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