Ground beef is more likely to be contaminated than poultry or whole cuts of beef, however.
"When you buy a chicken breast, how many animals is that? One. Ground beef? As many as 400 animals in commercially processed beef," Northeastern University food safety expert Darin Detwiler told USA Today. "Unless you buy steak from the grocer and grind it up yourself, you're talking about Russian roulette."
That's why ground beef has to be cooked properly. It doesn't matter if you use charcoal or gas, but it does matter that the internal temperature of the burger reach at least 160 degrees F, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
But precautions need to be taken before the patties hit the grill.
If you form your burger patties by hand, it’s important to wash your hands afterward so you don’t spread bacteria to surfaces or to other food. Be sure to thoroughly clean the area around the raw meat afterward.
After your burgers have reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees, place them on a clean plate instead of the one that held the raw patties.
» More ground beef recalled over possible E. coli contamination
No one is completely protected from foodborne illnesses, but the results can be far worse for the very young and the very old. Also susceptible are pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.
"These patients may experience more serious illness, hospitalization may be required, and death can be the final outcome," according to the CDC.
The CDC estimates that 76 million people get sick, more than 300,000 are hospitalized, and 5,000 die each year from illnesses caused by contaminated foods or beverages.