Kitchens selling ‘pink’ burgers issued with new guidelines

DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 17:  A CNN microphone records audio of pork burgers cooking on the grill at the Iowa Pork Producers Pork Tent during the Iowa State Fair on August 17, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa.  Presidential candidates are addressing attendees at the Iowa State Fair on the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox stage and touring the fairgrounds. The State Fair runs through August 23.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The growing popularity of burgers served pink has led to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to develop specific advice for commercial kitchens.

The FSA has published a draft document for food businesses and local authority enforcement officers on the safe preparation and service of burgers that are served pink or less than thoroughly cooked.

It is aimed at helping businesses meet consumer demand for rare burgers while keeping customers protected. Burgers that aren’t thoroughly cooked can contain bacteria that cause food poisoning if the right controls aren’t in place.

Last year, the FSA Board agreed a number of controls that food businesses serving burgers pink will need to have in place to demonstrate that they are maintaining customer safety.

The new advice sets the options out and they include:

  • Sourcing the meat 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.
  • Ensuring that the supplier carries out appropriate testing of raw meat to check that their procedures for minimising contamination are working.
  • Strict temperature control to prevent growth of any bugs and appropriate preparation and cooking procedures.
  • Notifying their local authority that burgers that aren’t thoroughly cooked are being served by the business.
  • Providing advice to consumers, for example on menus, regarding the additional risk.

The FSA said its draft advice is for caterers and local authorities only. It is not changing its guidelines for consumers as people preparing burgers at home are not in a position to carry out the same strict procedures that are expected of food businesses.

It also noted that the advice only relates to burgers made using beef. Burgers made using pork, chicken and other meats are beyond the scope of the document.

The advice has been consolidated into a single, 43-page document following feedback from local authorities and industry stakeholders. It provides additional clarity on potential control systems which food business operators can use as part of their HACCP-based food safety management systems.

The FSA is now inviting comments from the restaurant industry on the consolidated advice before it is formally published. The deadline for responding is 31 March 2016.

The draft publication can be viewed in its entirety HERE.

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