The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has reminded caterers and restaurants of the dangers of not cooking minced beef burgers thoroughly to remove harmful bacteria. In Ireland, 3% of raw minced beef is known to be contaminated with a particular harmful type of E. coli (called Shiga toxin-producing 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 published an update to its factsheet: Advice for Caterers on Serving Burgers that are Safe to Eat to aid compliance by caterers which aims to ensure that consumers do not fall ill as a result of undercooked minced beef burger products. It advises that minced beef burgers should be temperature tested prior to serving.
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.
The FSAI states that:
- Minced beef burgers must be fully cooked to ensure they are safe to eat
- Minced beef burgers should be cooked to a temperature of 75°C tested at the thickest part of the burger by a food thermometer or to one of the equivalent temperature time combinations outlined in its factsheet
- Caterers should not serve, offer or advertise undercooked or ‘pink’ minced beef burgers
- Failure to serve minced beef burgers that are safe to eat can make people seriously ill and place a food business open to legal action