Skip to main content

Visual Color and Doneness Indicators and the Incidence of Premature Brown Color in Beef Patties Cooked to Four End Point Temperatures

Buy Article:

$37.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)


An interlaboratory study was undertaken to assess the frequency that cooked color of ground beef patties appeared brown at internal temperatures of 52.7°C (135°F), 65.6°C (150°F), 71.1°C (160°F), and 79.4°C (175°F). In general, as internal cooked temperature of the patties increased, the following results were observed in the patties: (i) more brown meat color, (ii) less pink or red juice color, and (iii) more cooked texture. However, brown meat color occurred prematurely at the two lower internal temperatures (57.2°C/135°F and 65.6°C/150°F) that are insufficient to eliminate foodborne pathogens without holding times. The common consumer practice of freezing bulk ground beef, followed by overnight thawing in a refrigerator, led to substantial premature brown color in patties cooked from this product. In addition, at 71.1°C (160°F), recognized to be the lowest temperature for cooking ground beef safely in the home, meat color, juice color, and texture appearance were not fully apparent as doneness indicators. In fact, at no temperature studied did 100% of the patties appear done when evaluated by the criteria of no red or pink in the meat, no red or pink in the juices, or by texture appearance. Patties in this study were evaluated under a set protocol for forming the products, cooking, and viewing under the same lighting conditions. Other preparation conditions are possible and may produce different results. Thus, temperature to which patties have been cooked cannot be judged by color and appearance. This study provided the evidence to support the message to consumers regarding cooking of beef patties of "use an accurate food thermometer and cook beef patties to 160°F (71.1°C)" in place of messages based on consumer judgment of cooked color.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Russell Research Center, P.O. Box 5677, Athens, Georgia 30604-5677 2: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Meat Science Research Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland 20705-2350 3: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Inspection Service, Washington, D.C., USA

Publication date: October 1, 2000

More about this publication?
  • IAFP Members with personal subscriptions to JFP Online: To access full-text JFP or JMFT articles, you must sign-in in the upper-right corner using your Ingenta sign-in details (your IAFP Member Login does not apply to this website).

    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

    Print and online subscriptions are available to IAFP Members and institutional subscribers. IAFP Members with a subscription to JFP Online will have access to all available JFP and JMFT content. Online visitors who are not IAFP Members or journal subscribers will be charged on a pay-per-view basis. Membership and subscription information is available at
  • Information for Authors
  • Submit a Paper
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Membership Information
  • Information for Advertisers
  • ingentaconnect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites

Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
ingentaconnect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more