The FSA announced the campaign on the eve of the Late Summer Bank Holiday weekend – prime barbecuing season. Its move was aimed at ensuring the public cooked burgers all the way through to eliminate any risk of food poisoning.
The food watchdog said that burgers should be heated all the way through for at least two minutes, to ensure a temperature of at least 70°C at its centre. This should ensure that any bacteria present – including salmonella and E.coli – was destroyed, eliminating the threat of food poisoning.
The FSA’s campaign, which circulated social media using the hashtag #BurgerVSteak, emphasised the difference between burgers and steak. A steak could be eaten raw in the middle, because the bacteria only existed on the outside, which is subsequently seared. However, mincing meat – used for burgers – spreads the bacteria from outside to inside, meaning it has to be cooked to be safely consumed.
The awareness campaign came after the growing popularity of rare burgers in some high-end restaurants. The FSA feared that consumers would not know the difference between these restaurant burgers, and home-cooked burgers.
High-end restaurants obtained their meat from specially-approved premises. The meat would be subjected to steam cleaning or lactic acid washes to kill any lingering pathogens. Alternatively, a process called searing and shaving might be used, in which steaks are seared, and then the outside is cut off before mincing.
The FSA recently announced that restaurants could now serve rare burgers, provided they can demonstrate adequate controls for preparing burgers that delivered the same level of protection as thorough cooking.
FSA rare burger campaign
- Informs consumers that home-cooked burgers cannot be eaten rare
- Emphasises difference between rare burgers and rare steak