Is there anything more disconcerting than being asked to sign a waiver before tucking into a hamburger?
An American visitor to Toronto shocked hundreds of Reddit users last week by sharing that he was asked to sign a waiver when he ordered a medium-cooked hamburger at a Hilton hotel restaurant.
“I ordered my burger medium and the waiter took it with no question or comment,” he wrote in a post captioned “Toronto burger came with a release form.”
“She brought it and it looked great! When I had my first bite she brought me a release form and said we always make our burgers well done, but since you wanted it medium … you should sign this.”
The poster said that upon the special “medium” request, the waiter informed the man that the only burger option was well done and requested them to sign the form.
The form stated it would clear the hotel restaurant against any claims for damages related to any foodborne illnesses arising from the medium-cooked burger.
The traveler questioned whether the server should have mentioned something beforehand and wondered if this was a common practice in Canada.
“I tried to be nice, so I paid and left, but could not eat the burger,” he wrote.
“How can you sign a form like his and still eat it?”
Many of the 600 commenters were shocked to learn about the waiver.
Some people were surprised that the man was able to order a medium burger.
“Burgers are generally cooked to well-done because ground beef has a generally higher chance of contamination,” one wrote.
“I’ve never seen a restaurant actually have a waiver, and the waiter definitely should have mentioned it before leaving with your order.”
“I’m shocked they served you a medium burger at all,” said another.
The post captured the attention of Australian lawyer Jahan Kalantar who took to social media describing it as the most “bizarre, weird, strange thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
He added: “It is so beyond normal practice that it just blows my mind and baffles me that anyone ever thought this was a good idea, notwithstanding the fact that you cannot rely upon a waiver to prevent negligence in many instances.
“It’s just horrible marketing; imagined saying to the world ‘I am so unsure of my capacity to do something fundamental to my job like cooking a basic meal that I need you to accept liability for how poor I am at my job’ – It’s just unbelievable.
“God help us if this is the future, because if you can’t even order a meal without having to sign a waiver – we are so far into the Twilight Zone.”
According to the Ontario Food Safety Guide, ground meat must be cooked to a temperature of 71ºC for at least 15 seconds to reduce the chance of bacterial survival.
“When meat is ground up, any bacteria on the surface are mixed through the meat,” it states.
“To make sure all bacteria are killed, the meat must be cooked all the way through.”
Health Canada’s guidelines for handling and cooking ground meat and poultry are identical.
Hilton told local media they do waivers at that specific hotel, but it’s not “standard practice” for Hiltons more broadly.