Regulation of the Day 176: Cooking a Burger

In North Carolina, it is illegal to cook a burger to an internal temperature under 155 degrees. Rare and medium rare burgers are banned from the state’s restaurants. As regulator Larry Michael told AOL News, “According to North Carolina rules, a hamburger is cooked properly when it reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees Fahrenheit[.] There are no exceptions.”

Actually, there are. People cooking at home can still legally cook there burgers to whatever temperature they like. And a kind of rare burger black market has emerged. Regular customers who have built up a degree of trust with the staff can order a rare burger. But they’ve taken to speaking in code. The server will say that they’ll make the burger as pink as they can, just in case food inspectors are within earshot.

The reason they have to so circumspect is because openly giving customers what they want could cost the owners their restaurant license. Maybe it would be better to let adults set their own risk preferences. I personally prefer my burgers cooked medium. But if someone else wants to order a rare burger and is willing to bear the small risk of catching E. coli, let them. The only loser is the regulator who would have to find a more productive line of work.