Food Safety from Package to Plate – Hamburger Edition

Practicing proper food safety helps to prevent foodborne illness. Foodborne illnesses are caused by pathogens (bacteria, viruses) that are either naturally present on food or may get on food through outside contamination. Symptoms of foodborne illness include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, fever, and/or jaundice. These symptoms can appear as soon as a few hours, or as long as several weeks, after consumption of a contaminated food. Food safety incorporates many different strategies to ensure that by the time you’re ready to eat, the food is ready (and safe), too. In the spirit of barbeque season, we will take you through the safe procedures for storing, preparing, cooking, and serving a beef burger. Follow these tips when making these delicious deviled burgers. Keep in mind that these tips are applicable to the majority of meat that you might cook.


  • Option 1: Store raw burger in refrigerator(<41°F) for up to two days until ready to cook.
  • Option 2: Store in freezer(<0°F) as long as needed until you are ready to cook. *Quality will decrease over longer period of time.

Defrosting: (Only required when using frozen burgers)

  • Option 1: Move frozen burger from freezer to refrigerator (<41°F) until burger is thawed and cook that day. *This will take the longest, but is the safest method.
  • Option 2: Microwave frozen burger until thawed. Cook immediately.
  • Option 3: Cook frozen burger directly using grill/stove top/oven. Allow for longer cook time if using this method.


  • Use designated utensils (spatula, cutting board, etc.) for contact with raw meat only
  • Do not prep raw burger near any ready to eat foods (bun, lettuce, tomato).
  • After preparation is complete, be sure to wash, rinse, and sanitize all surfaces that have come in contact with raw meat.  


  • For food safety purposes, burgers should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F. You can measure this using a kitchen thermometer and placing it in the thickest part of the burger. A burger at 160°F will be well done.


  • Serve immediately after cooking.
  • If you do not plan to serve immediately after cooking, be sure to monitor the temperature of the burger while waiting to serve. It should be kept warm at no less than 135°F.


  • If you have burgers leftover, cool leftovers down to 70°F within 2 hours, and then down to 41°F during the following 4 hours.
  • Then store them in the refrigerator (<41°F) for up to 3-4 days.

Following these basic steps will help you prevent foodborne illness at your next barbeque. Don’t like hamburgers? Try something different like this grilled orange chicken.

While these procedures are applicable to any type of meat, fish, or poultry you may be preparing, be mindful that time and temperatures for storing, holding, and cooking may vary depending on what you are cooking. For more information on proper food safety click this link.

Written by Jessica Hollembeak, Dietetic Intern