The short answer: Only if you follow strict guidelines. The problem is that a burger doesn’t cook the same as a steak. When cooking a steak, all of the areas that are exposed to the elements are heated to the point where harmful bacteria will be killed, making the steak safe to eat. This isn’t the case with a burger as the act of mincing means the outsides end up inside, which means the external bacteria also ends up on the inside.
However, if you regularly serve medium-cooked burgers, you need to make sure that the temperature of the meat is 160°F throughout. This specifically applies to BEEF ONLY. Any other meats have an even greater chance to lead to sickness and disease.
To be able to serve a medium-cooked beef burger, the FSA (Food Standards Agency) state that you must have “a validated and verified food safety management plan”. They will give your business permission to serve this type of burger if you can demonstrate that you are controlling risks. But this includes more than just cooking the meat all the way through to a consistent temperature.
Before thinking about serving a medium-rare burger, you must make sure that your beef supplier has been approved by the FSA and you must provide proof that the beef is safe for consumption when it is medium-cooked. The supplier should:
- Store the beef appropriately
- Handle the meat hygienically
- Ensure no harmful bacteria is present on the meat
Another guideline you must follow, if your company provides food to the public, is that you need to provide your customers with information on the health risks that medium-cooked meat poses. This can usually be done next to the product on the menu. Following these guidelines, help reduce the chance of any of your customers falling ill because of your food. You should state who the most vulnerable groups are; an example being children and pregnant women.
Once the FSA are aware of your supplier, and your menu provides all the information that the consumer needs, you need to get in contact with your local authorities so they can examine your meat-preparing process and deem you suitable to serve medium-cooked meat. You will need to have a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) certificate, which we cover in our Food Safety and Hygiene Level 2 Training course, before you’re able to serve medium-cooked meats.
Effects of eating raw meat
There have been some instances of E-coli food poisoning from rare burgers, but none of them have been in the UK. However, it’s safer to eat burgers cooked all the way through as pink meat is never 100% risk-free.
Symptoms of E.coli include:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach cramps
Not cooking for yourself?
It can be awkward if your host has undercooked your burger and you’re not comfortable eating it, so if you know that your host hasn’t used a meat thermometer to check that the temperature of the burger is at a consistent 160°F throughout, you should just ask for your meat to be well-done so that you’re on the safe side!