North Carolina, spurred by fears of E. coli contamination of food, has instituted a ban on restaurants serving hamburgers cooked rare or medium-rare. This is, no doubt, a great victory for public health.
But North Carolina’s lawmakers didn’t go nearly far enough. Cooking meat at high temperatures generates compounds called advanced glycation end-products, which damage cells and accelerate aging. And grilling red meat can create carcinogenic hetercyclic amines. Therefore, thousands of lives would be saved if the scourges of grill marks and tasty brown crusts were eliminated. But how can we protect ourselves from undercooking and overcooking?
There’s an easy solution to this dilemma. Regulators should require that all hamburgers be cooked through the sous-vide process, in which meat is placed in a sealed plastic bag and slow-cooked in a temperature-controlled hot water bath. This way we can ensure that beef patties are gently heated to a safe 155 degrees throughout.
Of course, we can’t ignore the fact that burgers come with bread—America’s silent killer. This needs to be stopped.
The dangers of red meat are well-known, too—but we must respect the consumer’s choices, after all. Therefore, the bunless, water-heated beef patties can be served with a prominent warning label, and you’ll be secure knowing that your family is safe.