Food Engineering

Many adults unaware of key food safety practices

October 12, 2011
Eight in 10 adults who cook hamburgers or poultry burgers do not use a thermometer to determine doneness.


A new poll commissioned by the American Meat Institute (AMI) and conducted by Harris Interactive found that while almost nine out of 10 US adults (88 percent) cook hamburgers or poultry (chicken or turkey) burgers, only 19 percent of them use an instant-read thermometer to determine the burgers are safely cooked and ready to eat (i.e., “doneness”). Approximately 73 percent of adults who cook hamburgers or poultry burgers incorrectly rely on sight to determine doneness, and 57 percent incorrectly rely on cooking time.

Only 13 percent of adults aged 18-34 who cook hamburgers or poultry burgers, many of whom may prepare food for small children at home, use an instant-read thermometer to determine doneness when cooking hamburgers or poultry burgers. Seventy-eight percent of this age group rely on sight, which is not an accurate indicator of doneness, to determine if the burger is cooked properly. 

In terms of proper cooking temperatures, only one in five US adults (20 percent) knows  a hamburger should be cooked to 160°F to ensure it is safe to consume, while 41 percent mistakenly believe hamburgers should be cooked to a temperature less than 160°F, according to the poll.

Nearly half of US adults (47 percent) believe poultry burgers should be cooked to a temperature less than 165°F. Only 13 percent know a poultry burger should be cooked to 165°F to ensure it is safe to consume.

“Meat and poultry companies use many food-safety strategies to make our products as safe as we can, and it is our responsibility to empower our customers with the information that they need to ensure that the products are safe when served,” says AMI senior vice president of public affairs Janet Riley. “Our poll reveals that a significant knowledge gap still exists about proper cooking temperatures and thermometer use.”   

For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, contact Tom Super at AMI.