FSA Update: Approval for meat plants and rare burger guidance

Published: 8 Mar 2017

Throughout 2016, the contentious subject of rare burgers has featured in the news on several occasions. The Food Standards Agency has recently conducted a consultation around the subject and as a result a new requirement based on the existing food hygiene regulations has been introduced:

The new requirement:

  • From 1 March 2017, a new requirement regarding approval of meat plants will come into effect, these will be applicable only in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • If a site wishes to supply minced meat for the purpose of being eaten less than thoroughly cooked, specific approval will be required.
  • For concerned establishments, approval must be secured by either the FSA or the Local Authority.
  • In order to assist businesses with sourcing a suitable supplier if they want to serve less than thoroughly cooked burgers, a definitive list of establishments approved for this activity will be published on the FSA website.
  • Whilst there is no requirement in Scotland for specific approval to be obtained, food establishments do need to ensure that food safety standards are carefully followed to ensure that food is safe to eat.

The Food Standards Agency Guidance regarding serving of rare burgers:

If caterers wish to serve rare burgers the FSA guidance needs to be followed:

  • Sourcing the meat only from establishments which have specific controls in place to minimise the risk of contamination of meat intended to be eaten raw or lightly cooked.
  • Ensuring that the supplier carries out appropriate testing of raw meat to check that their procedures for minimising contamination are working.
  • Strict temperature control to prevent growth of any bacteria and appropriate preparation and cooking procedures.
  • Notifying the local authority that burgers that are not thoroughly cooked are being served by the business.
  • Providing advice to consumers, for example on menus, regarding the additional risk.

For fully cooked burgers the following time/ temperature relationship must be achieved:

  • 75 °C for 30 seconds
  • 70 °C for 2 minutes
  • 65 °C for 10 minutes
  • 60 °C for 60 minutes

Failure to comply with these requirements could result in action by the local EHOs’ which could include Hygiene Improvement Notices, Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notices, prosecution or simple cautions.

CSC would like to reiterate the importance of protecting your business and your customers by ensuring the burgers you sell are safe and that this can be demonstrated.

“The safest burger is a well cooked burger.”

The FSA  has indicated that there is still some risk involved whenever a burger is not thoroughly cooked.

When meat is minced, harmful bacteria from the surface of the raw meat will be spread all the way through the meat. It is therefore possible that these bacteria will not be destroyed if the burger is not fully cooked. Undercooked burgers increase the risk of the spread of E-Coli, especially to vulnerable groups (including adults over 60, pregnant women, children and persons with immune-compromised conditions).

For further advice please contact CSC.