Disposable Hamburger Thermometer
The timing couldn't be better for Trans World Services, inventor of the new "T-Stick" disposable thermometer for hamburgers. TWS' marketing coincides with a growing concern over E. coli O157:H7 and mounting efforts to educate both consumers and retailers to cook chopped meat thoroughly.
The T-Stick is a tapered, plastic-coated paper stick whose tip has been treated with a chemical that turns black when it reaches 160° Fahrenheit. That's the temperature USDA recommends chopped meat be cooked to in order to be safe. Most food codes now call for a temperature of at least 155°F.
TWS invented the T-Stick as an offshoot of its main business of producing materals and equipment for packaging sandwiches for schools and institutions. The materials in the T-Stick are the same food grade paper and plastic required for food packaging. The chemical indicator is less toxic than common salt, the company says, and is prevented from entering the food by the plastic coating.
One of its first users, Mary Poulsen of the Atlantic City, New Jersey, Public Schools, calls the T-Stick, "One of the greatest inventions ever for food service workers." Priscilla Luongo of the Massachusetts Food and Drug Division said her department has yet to field test the new thermometer but, based on demonstrations, she can see how the device could be useful to food inspectors who may not have thermocouple thermometers available to them.