WASHINGTON – Although almost nine out of 10 US adults (88 percent) cook hamburgers or poultry (chicken or turkey) burgers, only 19 percent of those who do use an instant-read thermometer to determine the burgers are safely cooked and ready to eat, according to a new poll commissioned by the American Meat Institute and conducted by Harris Interactive.

What’s more, approximately 73 percent of adults who cook hamburgers or poultry burgers incorrectly rely on sight to determine doneness and 57 percent incorrectly rely on cooking time.

The survey relays only 13 percent of adults aged 18-34 who cook hamburgers or poultry burgers, many of whom may prepare food for small children at home, use an instant-read thermometer to determine doneness when cooking hamburgers or poultry burgers, which concerns AMI. Seventy-eight percent of this age group rely on sight, which is not an accurate indicator of doneness to determine if the burger is cooked properly, the association added.

Only one in five US adults knows a hamburger should be cooked to 160°F to ensure it is safe to consume, while 41 percent mistakenly believe that hamburgers should be cooked to a temperature less than 160°F, according to the poll.

Forty-seven percent of US adults believe poultry burgers should be cooked to a temperature less than 165°F. Only 13 percent know that a poultry burger should be cooked to 165° to ensure it is safe to consume.

“Meat and poultry companies use many food-safety strategies to make our products as safe as we can, and it is our responsibility to empower our customers with the information that they need to ensure that the products are safe when served,” said Janet Riley, AMI senior vice president of public affairs. “Our poll reveals a significant knowledge gap still exists about proper cooking temperatures and thermometer use. US meat and poultry products are among the safest in the world, but like all raw agricultural products, they can contain bacteria and that is why it is important to take time to remind consumers about safe handling and cooking practices.”

Riley urged consumers to follow the four basic food safety steps that are included on safe-handling labels on meat and poultry products: clean, separate, cook and chill. Consumers should make sure surfaces and hands are clean when preparing food, separate raw products from cooked products, cook the product to the proper temperature and keep the product properly chilled, she added.