What are the dangers of rare burgers?

In recent years the popularity of that most beloved US export, the burger, has skyrocketed here in the UK. From fast food chains to high-end restaurants, there now exists a plethora of restaurants, takeaways and other eateries dedicated to serving up the tastiest patty in town — and this is a trend that shows no signs of letting up.

Here at Shieldyourself HQ, we’re big fans of the burger. But putting our penchant for beef, cheese and bread aside, we thought it prudent to report on the growing concern over the potential danger posed by rare burgers, which are now being served to the hungry British public in abundance.

According to a recent investigation carried out by Channel 4 for new documentary, Tricks of the Restaurant Trade, raw meat inside burgers was found to carry harmful bacteria such as salmonella, listeria and E.Coli — all of which are known causes of food poisoning. During the investigation, medium rare burgers were tested at three gourmet burger chains, one of which was found to contain listeria innocua — a harmful bacteria strain with potentially lethal affects — and another E.Coli O157.

Food poisoning expert, Professional Hugh Pennington, told Channel 4 that rare burgers present a significant public health issue, and should therefore be barred from public consumption.

Pennington said: “The risk is low, but the consequences of an E.Coli O157 infection can be life-threatening or life-changing.

“At best, you are talking about painful diarrhoea but it can cause kidney problems, brain damage and it can be lethal. One thing we do know is that E.Coli O157 is a threat and we have a bigger problem with it in the UK than anywhere else in the world.

“The only safe burger is one that has been cooked properly, for the right length of time and at the right temperature, so the juices run clear.”

The documentary findings follow the FSA’s decision to publish new proposals for restaurants serving rare burgers on their premises. Published earlier this year, the guidelines set out a new approach for food outlets serving pink burgers, and also highlight the potential health risks associated with undercooking beef burger patties.
While rare burgers do present certain health risks, it is possible to mitigate the threat of raw meat by adhering to comprehensive food safety practises. If you’re a restaurateur interested in serving rare burgers in your establishment, contact the Shieldyourself team for help and advice on the appropriate food safety measures you’ll need to retain full FSA compliance.

To speak to us, visit our website or call us today on 020 3797 2328.


Mark Flanagan

Blogs, Food Safety, Health & Safety

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