What is the internal temperature a steak should be cooked to for Rare/Medium Rare/Medium/Well?
Extra-Rare: 125F (52C)
Rare: 135F (57C)
Medium-Rare: 145F (63C)
Medium: 160F (71C)
Well-Done: 170F (77C)
Note: Extra-Rare and Rare are not recommended by USDA
Also note, you'll want to remove steaks from the heat when they're about 5 degrees below the temperature you're aiming for. The outside of the steak will continue to cook the inside of the steak while it sits on the plate.
In my state, many restaurants will not serve medium-rare so I also assume there is a *potential* danger there also.
Several resources, including the Culinary Institute of America's "The Professional Chef" recommend that all meat reach an internal temperature of 160°F to be considered safe. This is why most restaurants now print the disclaimer about undercooked meats on their menus. (http://www.amazon.com/Professional-Chef-Culinary-Institute-America/dp/0764557343/ref=dp_ob_title_bk)
@Dinah: Wow. What state is that? I'll know never to order a steak there. I always order rare, and tell them to err on the side of raw. I send medium-rare's back.
@hobodave: North Carolina. In most restaurants I've been to, you can only get burgers and steaks medium at lowest. Fortunately (or unfortunately for my health), I live right next to the only place I know of around here where you can get a rare burger. (Note: this is only reflecting my experiences across the state. I'm not claiming that it's official state policy or anything.)
Steaks too huh? Weird. Most restaurants I know restrict burgers to medium, I dont' think I'd actually order a burger less than medium. But don't mess with my steak.
A rare burger terrifies me: Dinah, I urge you to stop with the rare burgers, unless they're ground in the restaurant! A rare steak sounds great.
It's much different for ground meat, which is far more prone to bacterial infections. Ground meat has had a vastly greater proportion exposed to surface area and in contact with potentially unclean surfaces and handlers. Steak, on the other hand is basically sterile except for the exterior. Exterior temps on even rare steaks typically reach well above 160, since they are seared.
It's possible that the restaurants that won't serve rare steaks are using needle-injected or mechanically tenderized steaks, which can transport surface contaminants to the interior.