The programme, which was broadcast on Channel 4 on 5 January, suggested that burgers that are pink in the middle are not safe for consumption, despite a number of restaurants adapting the practise.
In a statement, the BHA say that while it believes ‘wholeheartedly’ that only safe and lawful food should be sold, the colour of the burger is not an indication of its safety.
Dr. Lisa Ackerley, food safety expert at the BHA, said: “It is important not to dwell only on the colour of the burger, for colour is not a true indication of meat safety. There are a number of controls that businesses can use, and are using, to ensure that their burgers are safe. It would be unwise therefore to assume that all rare burgers are unsafe because this is not the case.”
The organisation’s statement suggests safe ways to serve medium/medium rare burgers safely by cooking them at:
- 75°C for 18 seconds or
- 70°C for 2 minutes
- 65°C for 13.6 minutes
- 60°C for 93 minutes
Methods of control being used by chains include sous vide cooking, a style used to pasteurise the burgers before they are cooked on a griddle, producing a safe, pink burger.
Another example of control is where some companies use beef burgers that have been treated on the outside before the mincing process to ensure that they are E. coli free.
The BHA is currently in discussion with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) who want businesses to display an advisory notice to warn people of the dangers of eating undercooked burgers if they are young, elderly, pregnant, or otherwise vulnerable. The BHA contests this view, arguing that if companies have ensured that the meat is safe to eat a sign is not needed as it is ‘counter-intuitive’.