First we cut down on our sugar, then saccharin got rapped; we stopped putting salt onto everything and then tossed out the meat tenderizer. We threw away the kid's pajamas and stopped smoking anything stronger than an occasional hunk of meat on the outdoor grill - that is, until charcoal was condemned and sunburn was added to the list. Now, as everybody must have heard, the scientific spoilsports are suggesting that any hamburger left to fry too long in a pan can turn into a killer.

Well, Winny won't starve and there's no need to panic. American enterprise and the federal government will rise to this occasion. True, it may be a while before McDonald's can successfully recall all its models; but surely in due course the government will establish a Bureau of Hamburger Helpers (under VISTA?), and move to subsidize the development of a supersonic, mutagen-free hamburger prototype that can be fried in a simulated pan.

In the meantime, of course, it is claimed (who knows what the truth of any of this is?) that you can reduce your pan-fired risk of death down to a neat 10 percent just by eating the hamburgers rare or better yet raw - and never mind that some people go Yecccch! at the mere thought of rare meat or that there was, as we remember, something about cooking meat that was supposed to make it safer. For now, it seems, those who insist on eating what they (quaintly, in the view of some) refer to as a "well done" hamburger will just have to do a slow broil. And, untill somebody discovers that all along it's really been the laboratory animals who are carcinogenic - or until the scientists come up with an artificial carcinogen that can be substituted for the real thing - we'll just wait and see what great American instution will be challenged next. You don't suppose that apple pie will turn out not to be good for us, do you? And, come to think of it, what about Mom?