General notice

Cooking safety

Ground meat must be cooked until its internal temperature reaches 71°C.

There are well-known health risks associated with eating ground meat. These risks can be limited by taking precautions when preparing and cooking ground meat.

Here are the most important guidelines:

  • Never eat raw ground meat.
  • When barbecuing, preheat your barbecue and avoid charring the meat. A burnt exterior does not mean that the interior is properly cooked.
  • Always put the cooked meat on a clean plate that was not used for raw meat.
  • Use different utensils to handle raw and cooked meat. 
  • To keep the juices inside and ensure that your meat is juicy, delicious and properly cooked, do not press down on the meat with a spatula while it is cooking.
  • Wash your hands and your cooking utensils often.

Ground meat must be handled carefully at all times. Grinding brings surface bacteria into the meat. To eliminate the bacteria, the meat must be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 71°C. 

Read the proper cooking and internal temperatures page to learn about safe cooking temperatures for different types of meat.

Hamburger disease

E. coli bacteria cause intestinal infections. These bacteria can produce toxins that may cause hemorrhagic colitis, more commonly known as hamburger disease.


E. coli bacteria live in the intestines of livestock and other animals. They can contaminate animal carcasses during slaughtering. The infection is transmitted especially when improperly cooked beef or veal is eaten.

Other foods may also be contaminated:

  • ​Unpasteurized dairy products
  • Some raw fruits and vegetables (e.g., sprouts, lettuce, spinach)
  • Unpasteurized fruit juices
  • Untreated water​


E. coli infection is rare in Québec. It can cause commonplace symptoms, mainly diarrhea and abdominal cramping.

Who is at risk

Hamburger disease can affect people who are in good health, at any age.

However, hamburger disease carries a higher likelihood of complications for people in certain groups, including: 

  • ​Children under the age of five
  • Pregnant women
  • The elderly
  • People with weakened immune systems

This illness can lead to serious symptoms in children and the elderly. Kidney failure occurs in 5% to 15% of cases. Death occurs in 3% to 5% of those affected.

Last update: March 26, 2024


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General notice

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