Medium Cooked Burger - ©

American Tourist Shocked By Toronto Burger ‘Waiver’

We’re used to this kind of thing here in Canada. But some of our rules and regs can come as a surprise – even shock – to visitors. An American tourist was ‘flabbergasted’ when asked to sign a waiver before eating their medium-cooked burger…

Burger Waiver - © 2024 - Redittor Reit007

What happened

An American tourist staying at the Toronto Airport Hilton shared the following on Reddit:

“I ordered my burger medium and the waiter took [my order] with no question or comment,” Redditor Reit007 posted. “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 now you should sign this!”

That will come as no surprise to Canadians and long-term residents. But it was a shock to the tourist:

“I was flabbergasted. I read the release form and I think I can never have a burger [again].”

Then, the discombobulated diner ran for it:

“I tried to be nice so I paid and left but could not eat the burger.”

But Reit007 did expand on their thoughts:

“I am from the US so I do not know. Is it common in Canada? Like how can you sign a form like his and still eat it? Why the waiter did not say anything before hand? I still cannot believe it!”

It’s the law

It’s not only common; it’s the law of the land.

In Ontario, restaurants have to cook ground meat products – especially burger patties – to an internal temperature of at least 160 F. That’s ‘well-done’, to folks who aren’t familiar with food thermometers. It’s a precaution designed to head off food poisoning outbreaks.

The official Food Safety Guide for Ontario explains: “When meat is ground up, any bacteria on the surface are mixed through the meat,” the Guide states. “To make sure all bacteria are killed, the meat must be cooked all the way through.” The national, Health Canada guidelines say the same.

What isn’t so common…

… Is that any Canadian eatery would agree to under-cook a burger for any diner in the first place, under any terms or conditions. But the Hilton chain is famous for accommodating its guests. Hence, the waiver to absolve itself of any liability if said diners suffer any ill effects.

But I wonder if such a waiver would stand up in court, if it came to that? The courts are notorious for overturning waivers designed to protect companies from repercussions over harm caused to consumers by the companies’ goods or services. But that’s not the issue on the table today.

A common misperception

It’s all too common for Americans visiting Canada to assume their rules, regulations and laws apply here, too. That can lead to major disappointments, fines and even criminal charges. You see it a lot in connection with firearms. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) seized almost 14 thousand firearms and other prohibited weapons from travellers entering the country last year.

My take

Would you go to, say, France and expect folks there to speak English? American comedian Steve Martin actually ploughshared one such incident he experienced into a standup routine. He was just as shocked as Reit007 was about their burger waiver, to find that virtually nobody outside of the Paris airport spoke English.

When he tried to order in French at a restaurant, “The waiter brought me a shoe with cheese on it. And apparently, I told him to shove it down my throat!”

A hard lesson, but one, it seems, many Americans have to learn the hard way: That there’s a whole, other world out there, full of other sovereign states with their own laws and cultures!

~ Maggie J.