FSA puts forward rare burger guidance

The increased popularity of burgers served rare has prompted the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to look at how businesses can meet consumer demand while ensuring public health remains protected. 

The FSA’s long-standing advice has been that burgers should be cooked thoroughly until they are steaming hot throughout, the juices run clear and there is no pink meat left inside. This is because bugs can be present in the burger and can only be killed by cooking all the way through.

However, it recognises the steadily increasing trend in the preparation and sale of rare gourmet burgers in catering outlets and has proposed a number of controls for businesses. These include sourcing the meat only from establishments that 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 and providing consumer advice on menus regarding the additional risk from burgers which are not thoroughly cooked.

The full range of controls will be considered at the FSA board meeting on 9 September.

Despite the planned proposals, the FSA’s advice for cooking burgers at home is still to cook thoroughly all the way through until no pink meat remains,

Professor Guy Poppy, chief scientific adviser for the FSA, said: “We are clear that the best way of ensuring burgers are safe to eat is to cook them thoroughly, but we acknowledge that some people choose to eat them rare. The proposals we will be discussing with the FSA board in September strike a balance between protecting public health and maintaining consumer choice.”

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