The burger market is set to reach £3.8bn in value by 2020, according to hospitality food safety company Acoura, which also claimed research showed 48% of consumers expect to choose how their burgers are cooked.
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Consumers are still massively undereducated about how their burgers should be cooked to ensure they are safe, according to Rachel Robinson, chartered environmental health practitioner at Acoura.
“People often assume that because it’s safe to eat rare steak, it’s safe to eat a rare burger, but that’s not the case,” said Robinson.
‘Bacteria can be present’
“Bacteria, such as E.coli, is found on the surface of meat. Cooking meat kills that bacteria, but burgers are minced, so bacteria can be present in the centre.
“If it’s not killed, then it can make customers seriously ill.”
Rare burgers are associated with E.coli O157 – a serious strain that can cause diarrhoea and vomiting and more serious complications such as kidney failure, Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome, paralysis and even death.
To help operators produce safe and legal rare burgers, Acoura has created a factsheet.
Robinson added: “Temperature is the most reliable and accurate method for testing a burger’s safety and operators need to follow strict guidelines if they are considering serving rare burgers.”
Repeatedly made the headlines
Rare burgers have repeatedly made headlines over the past two years, following changes by the Food Standards Agency in how they should be served.
More recently the dish has resulted in some operators receiving devastating one-star food hygiene ratings.
At the start of the year the British Hospitality Association defended rare burgers, claiming it was not the case all rare burgers are unsafe.
Food safety expert at the organisation Dr Lisa Ackerley said: “There are a number of controls that businesses can use, and are using, to ensure their burgers are safe. It would be unwise therefore to assume that all rare burgers are unsafe because this is not the case.”