Just weeks ago the debate over whether the federal  government could mandate Americans to purchase health insurance ended in favor of the Democrats through a 5 to 4 vote in the Supreme Court.

The debate became  heated with the Democrats on one side wanting the health care legislation to be upheld in an effort to ensure millions of Americans will have  health coverage whereas the Republicans felt any legislation that forced citizens to purchase health insurance was ”Un-American”  and flew in the face of the constitution.

I often think about the Supreme Court’s decision when considering the uphill battle our industry has faced when attempting to convince consumers to do what is good for their health and the health of others they may serve.

Recently I had an opportunity to stay at a beautiful boutique hotel in San Diego. After completing the work I was sent there to do and after a few too many beer, the bartender asked me if I was hungry and wanted lunch. I told him I was a burger boy, on business there from Canada and would love to try the hotel’s burger. He thought that was a great idea as their burger was legendary and had been ordered by the rich and famous - the burger he was referring to was called the San Diego Special. To my surprise he then asked “how would you like it done?” I informed him of my background in Food Safety and requested it well done. In doing so I expounded all the reasons why ground beef had to be cooked to an internal temperature of 160F - this declaration usually elicits an eye roll from my wife, who incidentally was not on this trip- no need to go on about that as that would warrant a whole other article.

After some time and a few more beer passed, the bartender returned and presented me with the San Diego Special - it was as he described:   a large burger topped with 3 different cheeses, grilled onions and a tangy bbq sauce. As promised, it did not disappoint and as a result of my enthusiasm for the burger (helped along by the beer), it was not until my third bite that I realized the burger was extremely undercooked! As a matter of fact it was absolutely rare in the middle.

Once I got over my original shock, I signaled for my favorite barkeep and showed him the centre of the burger. I then asked him why the burger was served rare after my insistence on thoroughly cooking the burger, not to mention the importance of cooking it thoroughly from a food safety perspective - did he not understand our conversation?

His response was to ask me how I liked the San Diego Special - “isn’t the best burger you’ve ever had?” he asked.  I replied that it certainly was however it was not the safest! Again I asked why he did not thoroughly cook the burger as I requested - did he not understand our food safety conversation?

He said he did understand and had relayed our discussion to their Chef word for word.  In response, the Chef told him he had heard all the food safety warnings before however could not bring himself to overcook and ruin his famous burger .

I suspect some of you have shared in this experience and despite our teachings, our informative websites and the recalls, it appears some people will decide to ignore what is best for them and the general public’s  health.

Perhaps the Supreme Court was right in its decision?