Following my previous post about the dangers of eating raw pork, people have been asking whether it’s safe to eat burgers rare, or cooked with a ‘pink blush’ in the middle.
The advice being given in some food articles, recipes and by celebrity chefs is a bit confusing and not altogether accurate. Some are suggesting that it makes a difference whether you’re talking about a ready-made burger, or mincing and making your own. Or that buying a better quality, more expensive cut of meat makes a difference. Put bluntly: it doesn’t.
Our advice for burgers made from any type of meat therefore continues to be the same as for cuts of pork; they should always be cooked until steaming hot right through. Cooking in this way kills any bugs, such as E.coli or salmonella, which may be present on or in the meat. This applies whether you are buying a ready-made burger or making your own with mince you have bought from the supermarket or butcher.
It is safe to eat rare beef or lamb steak because searing the outside surface of a piece of steak, such as when cooked rare, will kill any bugs that might have contaminated the outside. However, the same doesn't go for minced products like burgers - even those described as ‘steak burgers’ or when making your own burgers from ‘steak mince’. This is because any bugs that may have been on the surface of the raw meat will be spread throughout the burger when meat is minced, so any pink meat may still contain harmful bacteria, whether raw or in a burger that’s cooked on the outside.