People planning to round off the summer holidays with a bank holiday barbecue are being urged not to serve their guests with burgers that are pink in the middle.
Rare burgers are increasingly popular among the growing number of gourmet chains, but the Food Standards Agency (FSA) warns that trying to recreate them at home could have serious consequences.
This is because bacteria such as E. coli, which tends only to be found on the outside surfaces of whole cuts of meat, can be mixed all the way through a burger during the mincing process and will not be killed off if the burger is left pink in the middle.
Burger chains are only able to serve pink burgers due to strict controls on the sourcing, preparation and cooking of the meat – controls which are not necessarily in place on those bought from a supermarket.
Steaks can be served rare because any contamination on the surface of the meat is destroyed when the steak is seared on the outside.
Environmental Health Officers from Daventry District Council are supporting the FSA’s Bank Holiday campaign and offer the following advice:
Cook burgers so they are steaming hot all the way through, no matter how good quality or expensive the meat
Check that none of it is pink and that any juices run clear
Avoid cross contamination by storing raw meat separately before cooking, using different utensils, plates and chopping boards for raw and cooked food.
Councillor Mike Warren, health and housing portfolio holder on Daventry District Council, said: “Gourmet burgers are increasingly popular in pubs and restaurants and it might be tempting to try cooking your own version at home, but this carries a risk. You can’t see, smell or taste bacteria, but it could be there, no matter how high quality the meat.
“Failing to cook your burgers all the way through exposes your family and friends to the risk of serious food poisoning, so if you want your barbecue to be remembered for the right reasons, please follow the advice.
People can find more tips for enjoying a safe barbecue at www.food.gov.uk/science/microbiology/how-to-barbecue-safely