Rare burger rules ‘won’t keep diners safe’

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Rare burger preparation guidance will be difficult to implement
Rare burger preparation guidance will be difficult to implement

Related tags: Rare burgers, Food safety

Food businesses won’t be able to guarantee consumer safety when serving rare burgers, even after implementing the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) new guidance, experts have warned.

The requirements needed to ensure ‘acceptable levels’ of risk were complex and called for sophisticated and validated food safety management systems along the supply chain, Jenny Morris, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) principal policy officer, said.

“For many food businesses, contemplating serving rare burgers is likely to require considerable investment and change to existing systems,” she told the CIEH’s official magazine.

“It is important that the requirements are fully understood and early discussions with EHOs [Environmental Health Officers] are recommended as the approach will not be suitable for all food businesses.”

It was possible to reduce the risks linked with serving rare burgers and produce “fairly safe” products, but that would require specialist controls that wouldn’t be in place for the majority of the burger’s production, Morris added.

‘The danger’

Food safety expert:

These requirements will not be straightforward and are indeed more like the HACCP [Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point] programmes used by, say, food manufacturers, which are more complicated than the food safety plans used by smaller foodservice establishments

  • Source: ​John Bassett

“The danger is that this will be misunderstood and people will consider that undercooking is ok with any burger. Clearly, this is not the case as recent [E. coli] outbreaks in Scotland and Northern Ireland have shown.”

In 2014, 22 people contracted the food poisoning bug E. coli and were hospitalised after eating undercooked burgers in Glasgow.

Earlier this month the FSA announced new guidance for foodservice outlets​ preparing and serving rare burgers, following a rise in demand for such products.

Controls included: sourcing meat from European Union businesses approved for the supply of minced meat intended to be eaten raw; strict temperature controls to prevent bacterial growth; appropriate cooking and preparation procedures; notifying the local authority that rare burgers would be served; and on-menu advice to consumers about the risks of eating rare burgers.

Some outlets had already agreed with the FSA the wording they would use to warn consumers about the potential risks of eating rare burgers.

‘Strict system in place’

Later this year Burger and Lobster would place signs in the entrances to its buildings, stating: “The government advises that the consumption of raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish or eggs may increase illness, particularly for those vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly. At Burger and Lobster we have strict systems in place to ensure that your food is safe.”

The preparation of rare burgers was unacceptable unless a validated and verified food safety management plan was in place, according to the FSA board.

It said: “The approach agreed by the board will improve consumer protection by making it clear to businesses the circumstances under which the service of rare burgers is acceptable and the stringent controls that must apply.”

However, former member of the FSA’s Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food John Bassett told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser: ​“These requirements will not be straightforward and are indeed more like the HACCP [Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point] programmes used by, say, food manufacturers, which are more complicated than the food safety plans used by smaller foodservice establishments.”

Related topics: News, Chefs, Health & safety, Food

Related news

Show more

Related product

Going omnichannel to generate revenue online

Going omnichannel to generate revenue online

Deliverect | 19-Feb-2021 | Technical / White Paper

Online food ordering has become a crucial business model overnight. We are here to advise you on how to keep your restaurant open by taking an omnichannel...

Related suppliers