Tricks of the Restaurant Trade: The BHA say pink burgers can be safe to eat

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 7th January 2016
This week Channel 4 broadcast Tricks of the Restaurant Trade featuring Simon Rimmer. It received much criticism on social media from those in the trade and the hot topics included rare burgers and how only pretty people get window seats in restaurants! In response to the 'rare burger' debate and the bacteria found in them, The British Hospitality Association (BHA) have released a statement..... burger2The BHA recognises that when cooking medium/medium rare burgers in uncontrolled conditions, they may be unsafe. The statement reads that ‘unlike steak, if the inside of a burger is not cooked, it is often not safe to eat because when meat is minced, the outside surfaces are mixed up with bacteria inside and this means that bacteria, such as E. coli will be mixed all the way through the burger.’ The BHA added that they wholeheartedly believe only safe food should be sold, in accordance with the law and that ‘we shouldn’t dwell only on the colour of the burger, for colour is not a true indication of meat safety.’ Dr. Lisa Ackerley, Food Safety Expert at the BHA said: “There are a number of controls that businesses can use, and are using, to ensure that their burgers are safe. It would be unwise therefore to assume that all rare burgers are unsafe because this is not the case. “Firstly, temperature and time controls, such as measuring the temperature at the centre of the burger, will provide a microbiologically safe product that may still be pink in the centre. This is in line with guidance from the Government’s Advisory Committee on Microbiological Safety of Food. This could mean cooking at:
  1. 75°C for 18 seconds or
  2. 70 °C for 2 minutes
  3. 65°C for 13.6 minutes
  4. 60 °C for 93 minutes
“Many of the larger chains are using methods such as sous vide cooking to pasteurize the burgers rare.hamburgerfirst prior to final cooking on a griddle. This will produce a juicy pink burger that is safe.” Another example of control is where companies are using beef that has been treated on the outside before mincing using a number of different processes such as steam or lactic acid. Such beef may have been tested and declared E. coli free before being sent to outlets. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) accepted at their Board meeting in September 2015 that a number of control methods might be used to achieve safer medium rare or rare burgers. Local Authorities need to be informed if companies wish to do this, and will verify the company’s validated HACCP systems to check that they are safe. This process has been carried out by a number of companies to the satisfaction of their Primary Authority or Local Authority. In the statement the BHA said businesses may face enforced action if they do not take reasonable steps to help prevent the sale of potentially unsafe food.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 7th January 2016

Tricks of the Restaurant Trade: The BHA say pink burgers can be safe to eat