Beef 101: Ground Rules

Food safety for July 4th

I’m gearing up for a big Independence Day celebration with the works: food, family, fun and games, and a few big bangs for good measure. And on July 4th — or any occasion, for that matter, food safety matters can make or break a gathering. Whether you’re grilling or arriving fashionably late with a big bowl of potato salad, keep these rules in mind:

  • Always wash your hands before handling food. Goes without saying, right? Yes — but it’s an easy rule to forget when you’re preparing and serving food outdoors. And be sure your young helpers follow the rule, too!
  • Keep cold folds cold and hot foods hot. There’s not much room for room temperature when it comes to food safety. And be sure not to cross-contaminate various dishes by sharing utensils or storing in the same bags, coolers or containers.

If there’s one thing you remember at your next cookout, barbecue or patio picnic, I hope it’s this: ground beef must be thoroughly cooked. Pink steaks are justified but not burgers.

  • Cook ground beef to 160°.  To ensure food safety when cooking or grilling burgers, a temperature of 160° F is recommended. An instant read thermometer works best, but just be sure to grill until the middle of the burger is no longer pink, and the juices run clear.

Now recently, someone asked us why it’s ok to enjoy a medium-rare steak at 145°, but not a ‘blushing’ burger in a lovely shade of pink. Chef Michael Ollier says this:

When cooking with ground beef, the chance for contamination — from a surface, your hands, etc. — is greater. So cook the burger until no pink remains to ensure that any potential bacteria is killed by heat.

It’s perfectly fine to grill and enjoy steaks at lower temperatures, though. Why? Because the inside of the steak or cut of beef is still sterile — it hasn’t been touched. The outside will be heated to high temperatures during grilling and any potential contamination will be taken care of with high heat. You want your steak rare? Medium-rare? No problem.

So that’s the skinny on ground beef. Cook it until it’s done — no cheating! And just in case you need a food safety refresher course, here are even more great tips! Now … go get ready for your big shindig. And don’t forget to wash your hands!

Need burger recipes or grilling tips? Click here.


Today is National Social Media Day!
One lucky winner will receive Adam Perry Lang’s Serious Barbecue cookbook
and a T-shirt. To enter the contest: Leave a comment, below,
telling us what you’re grilling on July 4th! 
One winner will be chosen by

random draw and announced on Tuesday, July 1, right here on

[One entry per person. Must be 18 years of age and a U.S./Canada resident. Enter by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on Monday, June 30.]

 Contest has ended. Congratulations to JOHN SCHIEFELBEIN!

Published by

Jennifer Kiko

Jennifer lives on a rural route with her husband, kids, horses, cows and faithful Labs, Cash and Carter. She's an aspiring foodie and enjoys making good food for great friends. She lives next door to a winery, plays the piano, and admits to growing too many tomatoes.

16 thoughts on “Beef 101: Ground Rules”

  1. I’m grilling CAB ribeyes and corn on the cob! Also making yeast rolls, salad and a dessert I haven’t decided on yet. YUMMY!!!

  2. Don’t forget to scrape off your grill once your done either, it’s easy to forget but you’ll thank yourself the next time you use it! I’ll be grilling burgers and a few steaks on the side on my old charcoal weber. Happy 4th!

  3. A jersey shore favorite… Sausage, peppers & onions!!! On a toasted club roll (outside only) grilled corn on the cob inside its husks along with grilled pineapple & jumbo shrimp!!!

  4. Mutton chops drenched in my special sauce and the mother in law spice i adore and of course saasages and some vegetable kebabs for the vegetarians and instead of pap wrap potatoes in a foil and cook them too.

  5. Unfortunately, our family will be at our son’s baseball tournament in Columbus, OH over the 4th so we will be doing our grilling before and after! Love strip steaks and sweet potato….

  6. We will be doing the all American grill with hamburgers and beef hotdogs. Lots of side salads and homemade ice cream!

  7. I’m grilling Certified Angus Beef (CAB) burgers stuffed with Point Reyes Bleu Cheese and topped with a tangy Port Wine Sauce.

  8. My family and I will be on our way to the National Junior Angus Show on July 4th so we will not be able to grill out that day! But I’m sure when we get to Indianapolis we will find a steakhouse that serves CAB stat!

  9. For our Fourth of July celebration, we will be grilling burgers and topping them with; marinated grilled shiitake mushrooms, cheddar cheese, crisp bacon along with onion and tomato! The sides will be grilled brats and baked beans, coleslaw, fresh fruit and veggies. Ice cream for dessert!

  10. I going to make juicy lucys on the grilled. That’s burgers with the cheese on the inside.

  11. We’ll be grilling Certified Angus Beef 12oz Flat Irons, add corn on the cob, and some asparagus. A little red wine, and then head in for the fireworks in Ely, Minnesota

    1. Congrats, John! You are the winner of Adam Perry Lang’s SERIOUS BARBECUE cookbook and a T-shirt. Wear it with pride! ;> We will contact you for a shipping address.

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