Wednesday 15 August 2018

Food authority issues warning on undercooked beef following 'serious food poisoning outbreak'

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

Some 3 per cent of raw minced beef is known to be contaminated with a harmful type of bacteria that can cause kidney failure, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has warned.

This harmful bacteria is E. coli (called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli).

Children under five years of age and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to this type of E. coli. 

Dr Pamela Byrne, CEO of the FSAI said: “We have had people become ill due to a serious food poisoning outbreak associated with undercooked beef burgers in a catering establishment.”

The FSAI has issued guidelines on how to cook and serve beef as a result.

“Chefs and caterers must ensure that minced beef burgers are cooked thoroughly before serving and waiting staff should not ask customers how they want their minced beef burgers cooked.”

“Food service businesses must have a food safety management system in place which identifies the hazards and outlines the critical control points to ensure food safety.”

The FSAI states that:

• Minced beef burgers must be fully cooked to ensure they are safe to eat

• Minced beef burgers should be cooked to a temperature of 75°C tested at the thickest part of the burger by a food thermometer or to one of the  equivalent temperature time combinations outlined in its factsheet

• Caterers should not serve, offer or advertise undercooked or ‘pink’ minced beef burgers

• Failure to serve minced beef burgers that are safe to eat can make people seriously ill and place a food business open to legal action

Dr Byrne said: “Food service businesses must have a food safety management system in place which identifies the hazards and outlines the critical control points to ensure food safety.”

“Cooking food to the correct temperature is the critical control point for serving safe minced beef burgers.”

“Regular checks should be carried out on the core temperature of minced beef burgers using a probe thermometer, as colour alone is not a reliable indicator.”

“Consumers also need to ensure that when they are cooking minced beef burgers at home, that they are cooked until they are piping hot all the way through.”

“Given the serious health risks associated with consuming undercooked minced beef burgers, this advice should not be taken lightly,” said Dr Byrne.

She added: “Disclaimers on the menu advising on the dangers of eating undercooked minced beef burgers do not exempt caterers from their obligations under food law to serve only safe food,” Dr Byrne concludes.

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