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Westminster City Council demands burgers be fully cooked


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#1 PSmith

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 02:57 AM

Looks like Westminster City Council are stamping down on rare burgers.

http://www.telegraph...endangered.html

Personally, unless I have minced the beef myself, then I prefer my burgers fully cooked.

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#2 Andrew

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 03:46 AM

I'm not an expert behind the science but this must have implications wider than just a Hawksmoor / Goodman / Ramsay burger. What about steak tartare surely that is far more 'dangerous'..........?!

Andrew
ps I'm not saying steak tartare is dangerous but if Westminster think a medium rare burger is life threatening then I would have thought they would have got upset about eating something raw!?!

#3 JudyB

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 11:52 AM

They do seem to be gettng increasingly tough - last month they successfully prosecuted Brasserie Blanc over "undercooked" lamb's liver, Brasserie-Blanc-operator-insists-lamb-s-liver-is-safe-following-ban-on-dish:

Brasserie Bar Co, the group behind the Raymond Blanc-founded casual dining chain Brasserie Blanc, maintains the view that its rare lamb's liver dish does not pose a health risk to customers, despite having been banned from serving it at all of its restaurants.



#4 MacD

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 02:37 PM

I'm not an expert behind the science but this must have implications wider than just a Hawksmoor / Goodman / Ramsay burger. What about steak tartare surely that is far more 'dangerous'..........?!

Andrew
ps I'm not saying steak tartare is dangerous but if Westminster think a medium rare burger is life threatening then I would have thought they would have got upset about eating something raw!?!


I think the potential problem with medium rare burgers is that the raw meat inside gets warm, which allows bacteria to breed. For some reason this is more dodgey for mince than it is for a whole steak - probably because there is more of a chance that the mince will have picked up bacteria while being minced. With raw beef, there is obviously no danger of it being half cooked/warmed up.

#5 offcentre

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 04:25 AM

I will try and complete this post without expletives, although I am already finding it difficult. This type of thing really annoys me. I first encountered this about 6 months ago in GBK. They used to serve me a rare burger, but the food police had told them they need to be cooked all the way through. I actually thought GBK had made up the bit about the food police at the time as it sounded a bit ridiculous.

Who wants to eat lambs liver that is cooked well done? Thats what put me off liver in the first place. It wasn't until someone served it to me rare, I'd decided to take my life in my owns hands and actually eat some of it rather than offend, that I realised what I was missing!


bastards.

#6 PSmith

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 06:12 AM

Who wants to eat lambs liver that is cooked well done?


Now I don't mind my liver a bit pink, but no way would I serve pink liver to a guest in my home. It is fine for me personally to take the risk, but I don't want the responsibility of playing Russian Roulette with someone else's health.

E.coli poisoning is serious stuff. It can actually kill.

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#7 Chris Hill

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 10:19 AM

I'm not an expert behind the science but this must have implications wider than just a Hawksmoor / Goodman / Ramsay burger. What about steak tartare surely that is far more 'dangerous'..........?!


The issue, as I understand it, is that when you mince meat, you are grinding a huge surface area of the meat against mincing apparatus that in addition to being difficult to clean, will quite easily pass any harmful bacteria on to other parts of the meat subsequently passed through it. With steak, you can just cook the outside as that's where the bacteria will be. With minced beef, you have to cook it through to kill of the bacteria. Steak tartare is probably fine if chopped rather than minced, the potential for cross contamination is lower, but on the basis of these articles I'd probably see that as an endangered species in London too.

Personally, I think it should be up to chefs as to whether they want to risk poisoning their customers (it's a genuine risk) and if they do, it's then up to the customers as to whether they want to risk being poisoned.

#8 PSmith

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 01:05 PM

Personally, I think it should be up to chefs as to whether they want to risk poisoning their customers (it's a genuine risk) and if they do, it's then up to the customers as to whether they want to risk being poisoned.


Exactly,

I have only had (mild) food poisoning twice in my life. Once after a take-a-way curry and once after a burger which I didn't noticed if it was fully cooked or not as the restaurant was not very well lit.

Minced beef from the butcher, unless it is labelled "steak mince" will contain things other than flesh. It could contain blood vessels, bone and cartilage

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#9 PhilD

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 03:54 PM

There are many food which have a degree of risk - from sashimi, through raw oysters, to rare and raw meat products. And whilst I applaud the food safety people efforts to ensure good practice in retaurant kitchens etc it worries me that my freedom of choice is being limited. I enjoy a rare burger, I understand the risks, I assume the food safety inspections have ensured the kitchen is safe etc etc and thus should be able to make my own decisions.

#10 Matthew Grant

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 07:39 AM

Westminster are denying that they have banned rare burgers, they simply ordered Davy's wine bar to stop serving rare burgers due to the way they were prepared:

http://www.standard....at-8410585.html

Interestingly enough for me a good burger needs to be cooked more than rare in order to get the significant amount of fat it should contain to start melting. I'm not saying they should be cooked through but rare rarely works for me with a burger.
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#11 Man

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:21 PM

Interestingly enough for me a good burger needs to be cooked more than rare in order to get the significant amount of fat it should contain to start melting. I'm not saying they should be cooked through but rare rarely works for me with a burger.


Good point!

#12 PSmith

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 01:53 PM

Wonder what the reaction would be if people were allowed to eat rare burgers but should they get sick, they will have to pay for their medical care. Would you take the risk with an undercooked burger?

Having been taught/brainwashed that burgers and sausages should be cooked through, the thought of eating pink minced meat seems so wrong to me.

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#13 PhilD

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 06:51 PM

Wonder what the reaction would be if people were allowed to eat rare burgers but should they get sick, they will have to pay for their medical care. Would you take the risk with an undercooked burger?

Having been taught/brainwashed that burgers and sausages should be cooked through, the thought of eating pink minced meat seems so wrong to me.


Where I live I do (but then I pay far less tax than the UK so have not "paid" for the NHS and the promise of universal care). And yes I am still quite happy to order rare and raw food. You have to remember it isn't really the food that makes you ill, its he handling, preparation and care. Mince steak for your own burger, hand carve your steak tartare, open your own oysters (from a good source) and you should have no problems. Choose a good restaurant etc etc and again very unlikely to have problems.

You could take your "if you choose, you pay" suggestion further. How about those who go to dodgy dirty restaurants - they are also taking a risk. Or the cheap buffet with food kept too long, the cheap egg mayo sandwich from a roadside cafe. All are easily avoidable risks.

#14 PSmith

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 11:34 PM

Mince steak for your own burger, hand carve your steak tartare, open your own oysters (from a good source) and you should have no problems. Choose a good restaurant etc etc and again very unlikely to have problems.


But even choosing a good restaurant is not a guarantee. Plenty of reports of people being poisoned from eating at top restaurants/hotels in the UK

http://www.guardian....oviris-outbreak

http://www.bbc.co.uk...london-20318319

http://www.bbc.co.uk...hester-15887391

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#15 Mjx

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 03:49 AM


Wonder what the reaction would be if people were allowed to eat rare burgers but should they get sick, they will have to pay for their medical care. Would you take the risk with an undercooked burger?

Having been taught/brainwashed that burgers and sausages should be cooked through, the thought of eating pink minced meat seems so wrong to me.


Where I live I do (but then I pay far less tax than the UK so have not "paid" for the NHS and the promise of universal care). And yes I am still quite happy to order rare and raw food. You have to remember it isn't really the food that makes you ill, its he handling, preparation and care. Mince steak for your own burger, hand carve your steak tartare, open your own oysters (from a good source) and you should have no problems. Choose a good restaurant etc etc and again very unlikely to have problems.

. . . .


The problem is that the restaurants have to take it in good faith that the food they purchase and carefully handle was treated with equal care before they received it. True, with mince you can grind your own, sterilizing the exterior of the meat before passing it through the (carefully and thoroughly maintained) grinder, but I'm not sure how many restaurants an afford to do this, which means that regardless of how scrupulously clean the restaurant is, if the meat was contaminated beforehand, there's a risk customers will become ill.

If customers are willing to take that risk/insist that they have a right to eat as they please, fair enough. On the flip side, they also have to acknowledge that they're taking a gamble, and be willing to accept the possible consequences (i.e. not expect others to pay for their gamble; a law suit is seriously not on).

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#16 PhilD

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 04:28 PM



Mince steak for your own burger, hand carve your steak tartare, open your own oysters (from a good source) and you should have no problems. Choose a good restaurant etc etc and again very unlikely to have problems.


But even choosing a good restaurant is not a guarantee. Plenty of reports of people being poisoned from eating at top restaurants/hotels in the UK

http://www.guardian....oviris-outbreak

http://www.bbc.co.uk...london-20318319

http://www.bbc.co.uk...hester-15887391


Of course there is never a 100% guarantee, things do go wrong. Oysters from the best suppliers can get infections, the best sushi chef may miss a parasite (although in the UK your fish is frozen so less risk but equally less good texture), the unpateurised cheese may be loaded with listeria, the soft egg yolk may be full of e.coli, the innocent foraged "Chinese" mushrooms that turns out to be deadly death caps (chef Liu Jun in Australia this year) or even a fellow diner may release an "aerosol" of norovirus when they go to the loo (believe me a common vector of contamination in an outbreak) which you breath in as you go for a pee....should you mitigate this risk by nipping outside and peeing up the wall instead or by not using public toilets at all? If you exclude all risk you stop eating out, and stop using many cooking techniques.

There is risk in even the most mundane of foods and you can add to that the environmental risks so impossible to alleviate them all. So why do food hygiene authorities focus on things like rare liver, and burgers? Is it simply an irrational need to make everything 100% safe, or us it a far more simply reason. They don't, instead it is the media who take and beat it up into something else. With all these stories the main issue seems to be how food was prepped and it was a focus on kitchens improving standards it's the media that turned it into " no rare burgers" and possibly chefs who should know better running scared.

For me it is always going to be about a calculated risk: better quality places should be safer due to higher standards. Better quality produce should be safer etc etc. I eat street food in Asia, I eat raw fish in good sashimi places, I carefully select oysters to shuck, and I enjoy a decent rare burger or some steak tartare. I understand the risk and am prepared to balance the risk with my enjoyment. Others take their pleasure in other ways: mountaineers fall off, fell walkers fall over, sailors get blown away.....we don't question their right to do it, nor the need to rescue them and fix them up at tax payer expense. Why should it be different for an adventurous eater......?

Edited by PhilD, 16 December 2012 - 04:36 PM.


#17 Mjx

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 12:13 AM

. . . . Others take their pleasure in other ways: mountaineers fall off, fell walkers fall over, sailors get blown away.....we don't question their right to do it, nor the need to rescue them and fix them up at tax payer expense. Why should it be different for an adventurous eater......?


Everyone is entitled to take the risks that attract them.
But if a mountaineer, fell walker, or sailor is damaged or killed, they/their families usually don't look about to see who they can scream at and sue. They accept the consequences of the activity in question, do their moaning/grieving, and carry on.
Presumably, anyone who can afford to eat at a restaurant is paying some sort of taxes, and they've contributed their little bit to the national health plan, so they're certainly entitled to be patched up by same.

What I take issue with is someone demanding their burger rare, becoming ill, then trying to pass blame for their decision to take this risk. I realize it's difficult to be philosophical about this sort of thing when your dinner really opened things up at both ends, but presumably when the decision was made to request the burger so underdone that it moos, this contingency was considered worth it, so I guess... think back to how fabulously delicious the burger was? The first time round, that it ;)

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#18 Chelseabun

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 06:03 PM

I have had food poisoning and never want it again.  I like my burgers cooked and safe to eat and I expect food businesses to have food safety systems in place to manage the risks.  Is that too much to ask?



#19 Tri2Cook

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 03:28 AM

I have had food poisoning and never want it again.  I like my burgers cooked and safe to eat and I expect food businesses to have food safety systems in place to manage the risks.  Is that too much to ask?


If you don't order your burgers rare, it doesn't cause you any risk if someone else does... so a rule like that doesn't really benefit you in any way and not having that rule doesn't harm you in any way.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#20 PSmith

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 03:55 AM

I have had food poisoning and never want it again.  I like my burgers cooked and safe to eat and I expect food businesses to have food safety systems in place to manage the risks.  Is that too much to ask?

 

Indeed.  Many people think that food poisoning is a bit of sickness and diarrhoea, but it can be way more serious than that as Michael Winner found out on several occasions.

 

http://www.dailymail...ned-dinner.html


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#21 SylviaLovegren

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 04:31 AM


Who wants to eat lambs liver that is cooked well done?

Now I don't mind my liver a bit pink, but no way would I serve pink liver to a guest in my home. It is fine for me personally to take the risk, but I don't want the responsibility of playing Russian Roulette with someone else's health.

E.coli poisoning is serious stuff. It can actually kill.


Does liver have a higher risk of picking up bacteria than other unground meats? Do you only serve well-done steaks and roast beef? I'm not trying to be snotty, I just don't know the difference between rare steak and rare liver. Is there one?

#22 PSmith

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 08:46 AM

Does liver have a higher risk of picking up bacteria than other unground meats? Do you only serve well-done steaks and roast beef? I'm not trying to be snotty, I just don't know the difference between rare steak and rare liver. Is there one?

 

It is the bacteria can be in the meat rather than what it may pick up.  The liver as an organ, detoxifies chemicals and aids digestion.  Therefore, it is probable that some chemicals may remain in the liver.

 

The UK NHS guidelines are for liver to be thoroughly cooked.

 

http://www.nhs.uk/Li...oodhygiene.aspx

 

My partner tends to only like his beef cooked through.  Not cremated - but no blood.  I can eat medium rare, but I often find I prefer the taste and texture of fully cooked beef.  If I was serving steak or roast beef, then I would tend to cook it without any pink meat - unless I had a guest who particularly had a preference and I would cook the roast beef so part of the middle is pink, giving the other guests the meat from the ends.  However, most of my friends seem to now prefer their beef "done".  It maybe an age thing.


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#23 rotuts

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 09:53 AM

commercial ground beef by its vary nature carries I much higher risk of disease transmission than solid meats.

 

in this day and age of cost cutting / miniscule profit margins, etc, if you like rare ground beef, enjoy it at home and get over this issue


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#24 Chelseabun

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 12:18 PM

I have had food poisoning and never want it again.  I like my burgers cooked and safe to eat and I expect food businesses to have food safety systems in place to manage the risks.  Is that too much to ask?


If you don't order your burgers rare, it doesn't cause you any risk if someone else does... so a rule like that doesn't really benefit you in any way and not having that rule doesn't harm you in any way.

 

I think it means Westminster Council are clamping down on food businesses selling their burgers rare (or undercooked) to all of their customers (if they have asked for their burger rare or not).  I am afraid that food businesses can cut energy costs by cooking their food to a lower temperature for a shorter period of time.  Some people put profits ahead of public health.  I fully support Westminster's stance on this and hope other councils follow their example.



#25 rotuts

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 02:20 PM

 I am afraid that food businesses can cut energy costs by cooking their food to a lower temperature for a shorter period of time.

 

I really doubt this.   that would involve a lot more intelligence than there is in the 'on the line' food business.  think of the heat, lights etc of these places.

 

if they under cook, its out of low end minimum wage can't be bothered ness.



#26 Chelseabun

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 04:46 PM

 I am afraid that food businesses can cut energy costs by cooking their food to a lower temperature for a shorter period of time.

 

I really doubt this.   that would involve a lot more intelligence than there is in the 'on the line' food business.  think of the heat, lights etc of these places.

 

if they under cook, its out of low end minimum wage can't be bothered ness.

 

Agree totally.  Can't be botheredness will be the main reason (i was thinking about a specific case i read about in Environmental Health News to be fair).  I stand corrected.  My point was that Westminster clamping down on rare burgers is more about ensuring food safety than heavy handed 'food police' depriving people of their liberty to eat rare burgers.



#27 rotuts

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 05:06 AM

yep.



#28 gfweb

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 06:31 AM

 

I have had food poisoning and never want it again.  I like my burgers cooked and safe to eat and I expect food businesses to have food safety systems in place to manage the risks.  Is that too much to ask?


If you don't order your burgers rare, it doesn't cause you any risk if someone else does... so a rule like that doesn't really benefit you in any way and not having that rule doesn't harm you in any way.

 

I think it means Westminster Council are clamping down on food businesses selling their burgers rare (or undercooked) to all of their customers (if they have asked for their burger rare or not).  I am afraid that food businesses can cut energy costs by cooking their food to a lower temperature for a shorter period of time.  Some people put profits ahead of public health.  I fully support Westminster's stance on this and hope other councils follow their example.

In general the grill/flattop is on and using energy whether or not there is a burger cooking on it.