Strict controls introduced for rare gourmet burgers
Release date: 15 September 2015
Food safety officers at Cotswold District Council are urging food businesses and the public to take note of a new stance taken by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on the preparation and service of rare (pink) burgers.
The FSA’s long-standing advice has been that burgers should be cooked thoroughly until they are steaming hot throughout, the juices run clear and there is no pink meat left inside. This is because bugs can be present in the burger and can only be killed by cooking all the way through. However, the FSA recognises a steadily increasing trend in the preparation and sale of rare gourmet burgers in catering outlets. As a result, businesses who serve rare burgers will have to implement a range of controls, and monitor their supply chains and cooking procedures to cater for this new trend. The FSA has also stated that businesses will need to demonstrate to their local authority that the food safety procedures they implement are appropriate.
The new controls include the following provisions:
- Businesses wishing to serve burgers rare must notify their local authority in advance
- The meat must be sourced only from establishments which have specific controls in place to minimise the risk of contamination of meat intended to be eaten raw or lightly cooked.
- Businesses must ensure that the supplier carries out appropriate testing of raw meat to check that their procedures for minimising contamination are working.
- Strict temperature control will be necessary to prevent the growth of any bugs, and businesses must also undertake appropriate preparation and cooking procedures.
- Consumer advice must be displayed on menus, indicating the additional risk from burgers which aren’t thoroughly cooked.
Commenting on the new FSA controls, Cllr Sue Coakley, Cabinet Member for Health, Environment and Communities at Cotswold District Council, said:
“'It is clear that the best way of ensuring burgers are safe to eat is to cook them thoroughly, but we acknowledge that some people choose to eat them rare, and there needs to be a balance between protecting public health and maintaining consumer choice. The FSA requirements to ensure 'acceptable levels' of risk are complex and require sophisticated and validated food safety management systems along the supply chain. For many Cotswold food businesses contemplating serving rare burgers this is likely to require considerable investment and change to existing systems. It is important that the requirements are fully understood and early discussions with our food safety team – on 01285 623000 - are recommended, as the approach will not be suitable for all food outlets.
“In line with the FSA controls, the Council’s food safety team will be implementing strict checks on catering establishments serving rare burgers to help minimise the risk of people becoming ill. However, it is important to stress that the advice for cooking burgers at home and on family barbeques remains the same – please cook them thoroughly all the way through until no pink meat is visible.”