Ground beef is an ingredient in so many dishes. It is a delicious, welcomed addition to many meals, from meatballs to meatloaf, spaghetti, and BBQ burgers.
However, have you ever cooked ground beef that came out pink?
You probably panicked the minute you realized the ground beef was pink and cranked up the fire, trying to eradicate the beef’s pink color. But after a few minutes, the ground beef was still pink.
Sometimes ground beef can come out pink even if we cook it to the right temperature, so can ground beef be pink? Should I toss the cooked ground beef in the trash and cook a fresh batch of ground beef?
Can Ground Beef Be Pink?
Ground beef’s color is not an adequate indicator of whether or not ground beef is cooked and safe to eat.
Ground beef can turn brown seconds after it hits the hot cast iron skillet.
This premature browning can cause you to assume the ground beef is cooked even though it has not reached the recommended temperature.
Moreover, if the surface of the ground beef was already brown, it may look like it’s cooked even though it’s not.
Furthermore, beef can have a pink color even if it is cooked to the recommended internal temperature.
There are multiple reasons why cooked ground beef may have a pink color. Cooked ground beef’s color heavily depends on the color and pigmentation.
Beef contains a pigment called myoglobin which is found in its muscle.
Myoglobin gives beef its red color. Therefore, the greater the pigmentation, the more red the ground beef will be.
In essence, the pink color could result from the interaction between the heat and myoglobin.
Ground beef’s pH can also play a role in pink ground beef. Ground beef’s pH can range from 5.3 to 5.7 (normal) to 6.2 (high).
When ground beef’s pH is above 6.0, the myoglobin is not denatured, resulting in pink cooked ground beef.
In other words, ground beef cooked to a temperature of 160°F has the greatest pH and pigmentation.
A pink color may also occur in ground beef if it is cooked with vegetables like celery that naturally contain nitrates.
Moreover, beef carved from older animals can have a less red or even darker color. This can give the illusion that the beef is cooked.
If ground beef is made using a combination of meat carved from older and younger cows, the patties can mimic the color of burgers with a temperature of 140°F. Still, the burger’s actual internal temperature is only 131°F.
Furthermore, it is nearly impossible to visually tell the difference between burgers that are 150°F or 150°F.
Another element that impacts the color of cooked ground beef is the ratio of fat. Beef with minuscule amounts of fat can
The ratio of fat to meat in beef patties is another factor that could affect the color of cooked ground beef.
Low-fat beef does not seem to conduct heat as well as beef with a higher fat percentage.
In contrast, if the ground beef is mixed with oat bran carrageenan, water, or isolated soy protein must be cooked longer at higher temperatures.
Sometimes, even when the beef with a low-fat ratio is cooked to a temperature between 160°F and 165°F.
Therefore, color should be tossed out of the window when it comes to telling if ground beef is cooked.
How To Tell if Ground Beef Is Done
When purchasing ground beef, there should be no liquid in the package. In addition to this, make sure the ground beef is not expired before you buy it.
If your ground beef expires before you get the chance to cook it, toss it in the trash.
To determine if your ground beef is cooked, check its temperature. Remember, this is the most effective way to assess beef’s doneness.
Insert your thermometer’s probe into the thickest part of the ground beef. If the temperature is between 160°F-165°F, it is cooked.
In addition to this, if you are making meatloaf, the juices should run clear when it is pierced with a knife. It should also have a firm texture and should not have a rancid aroma.
How To Tell if Ground Beef Is Undercooked
The temperature will tell you whether ground beef is cooked or undercooked. If the ground beef has a temperature less than 160°F, it is undercooked.
If you are still not sure if the ground beef is cooked once you have measured its temperature, insert the probe into a different location.
What Happens if I Eat Undercooked Ground Beef
Eating undercooked is like drinking a gallon of oil. Basically, you would be asking for trouble by eating undercooked ground beef.
Undercooked ground beef is one of the central causes of food poisoning. Specifically, it causes E. Coli.
E Coli. is a bacteria strain that generates a toxin known as hemorrhagic colitis. Although most cases of E. Coli are mild, you may still experience vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.
Food poisoning caused by E. Coli may also escalate into a severe illness called a hemolytic uremic syndrome.
Hemolytic uremic syndrome can cause strokes, kidney failure, seizures, and brain damage in older people or children under 5.
Food poisoning symptoms will usually present themselves between 2-8 days after ingesting the tainted food. These symptoms can persist for 1 week.
Moreover, E. coli is associated with irregular cases of food poisoning and outbreaks that result in sickness as well as death.
Since 1982, several E. coli episodes have been associated with undercooked beef. This is why you should never eat undercooked beef under any circumstance.
Most people don’t consider ground beef cooked until it has a brown color. However, the color of cooked ground beef can be misleading as it is inaccurate.
Cooked ground beef can have a pink color. Therefore, you should take the ground beef’s temperature to determine if it is truly cooked.
As long as the ground beef has a temperature between 160°F and 165°F, it is safe to consume.
You might also be interested in the following:
- Can Lamb Be Pink?
- Can Ribs Be Pink?
- Can Burgers Be Pink?
- Can Turkey Be Pink?
- Can Chicken Be a Little Pink?
- Can Pork Be Pink?
- Can Sausage Be Pink?
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.