I'm getting a bit lost in this discussion so let me ask a question or make an observation. Safe food handling documents allow for a range of safe temps for all foods depending on the amount of time the food is held at that temp, the pathogen's environment (water availability and osmotic pressures), and the amount of heat delivered during a specific time. Safe time and temps are affected by the ability of the meat and process to "deliver" the pathogen killing temps and environment. There is, according to the experts, a difference in how long it takes "ground" meat and "whole" meats to deliver/convey the bacteria killing temps and or alter the environment and osmotic pressures.
Remember heat is transmitted much more effectively with high humidity, high pressure cooking then dry cooking. Water is a good transmitter of heat and holds a lot of latent heat that can be transmitted to the product. A convection oven has lower hold times then a standard dry oven because the heat is circulated and more effectively delivered. What burns more? Sticking your hand in a 250 degree oven for 30 seconds or in 250 degree water for 30 seconds
Whole muscle meats are assumed to be "germ" free inside the intact muscle. Ground or penetrated meats are assumed to be laden with pathogens. Pork cooking temps have come down because Tric has been eliminated by modern processors but we should still cook wild or locally grown uninspected pork to the higher temps.
I think the "amount" of bad guys in the product is irrelevant to the discussion. It is automatically assumed that contact with an infected surface produces sufficient inoculant to make the food unsafe. If the ground meat is not contaminated when it leaves the factory it becomes contaminated when the high school kid working the meat counter breathes on it as he repackages or when momma sticks her hands in it to form burger patties for her family.
There are several ways to make products safe
Bring to high enough temperature
Bring to either sufficiently high or low enough osmotic pressures
Remove enough "available" water that the pathogens can not survive or reproduce
Place the pathogens in a chemical environment that it cannot survive
Radiate the pathogens
There are others that do not come to mind
At least that's the way I see it.