Growing trend for eating rare burgers could hide deadly bacteria
Better think twice before tucking into that medium-rare double cheese burger.
Safefood Ireland has warned there is "no way of knowing" if rare burger meat is safe.
A leading food safety expert said he was "very surprised" restaurants were offering undercooked burgers and putting their customers at risk.
Professor Martin Cormican, from the school of Medicine in NUI Galway, said small children and pregnant women were at an even higher risk of becoming ill.
"Restaurants need to understand that not every customer is the same and some are at more risk than others. There are liability issues," Prof Cormican said.
He said that every burger had the potential to have the deadly bacteria, Vtec, which could cause severe illness.
"Although steak can have its bacteria killed on the outside, mince has the potential for the bacteria to end up in the middle where if not cooked properly, has the potential to make you seriously ill," he said.
Safefood Ireland has launched its Burger Fever campaign as it was revealed 96pc of Irish people consider themselves well informed about food safety, yet 51pc are eating undercooked burgers.
A batch of French mince was recalled last week from French supermarkets over worries for the presence of Vtec, and Prof Cormican said it could easily happen in Ireland.
"Don't take the risk, and especially if you're taking medicine for illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis which severely impacts your immune system," Prof Cormican said.
Dr Linda Gordon, chief specialist in food science at Safefood, said around 2pc of all mince had Vtec in it so the risk was always there for the "growing trend" of burger lovers.