The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI ) are reminding caterers and restaurants of the dangers of not cooking minced beef burgers thoroughly to remove harmful bacteria.
In Ireland, three percent of raw minced beef is known to be contaminated with a particular harmful type of E. coli that can cause kidney failure. Children under five years of age and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to this type of E. coli.
The FSAI states that the safety of minced beef burgers is dependent on sufficient cooking to ensure the destruction of harmful pathogens. It recommends that minced beef burgers are cooked to a minimum core (the thickest part of the burger ) temperature of 75°C before serving.
For those food businesses wishing to offer minced beef burgers prepared at lower temperatures, longer cooking times are required. The temperature and time combinations equivalent to 75°C have been recommended by the FSAI’s scientific committee.
According to Dr Pamela Byrne, CEO, FSAI during the summer months, minced beef burgers are a highly popular go-to food for many people however, food safety should never be compromised for speed or to cater for trends in consumer taste.
“There should be no compromise on food safety. We have had people become ill due to a serious food poisoning outbreak associated with undercooked beef burgers in a catering establishment.
Food service businesses must have a food safety management system in place which identifies the hazards and outlines the critical control points to ensure food safety. Given the serious health risks associated with consuming undercooked minced beef burgers, this advice should not be taken lightly,” said Dr Byrne.
The FSAI also states that caterers should not serve, offer or advertise undercooked or ‘pink’ minced beef burgers.
The FSAI understands that customers may request undercooked or rare minced meat burgers, but this does not exempt a food business’s duty to sell safe food or protect it from potential prosecution.
“Disclaimers on the menu advising on the dangers of eating undercooked minced beef burgers do not exempt caterers from their obligations under food law to serve only safe food,” Dr. Byrne concludes.