Serving Raw Meat - The Law and the guidance

24 September, 2013
Claire Hussey

Perhaps the most contentious subject debated in kitchens up and down the country this year is the ability of chefs to serve raw meat to customers...without breaking the law.

Below, Claire Hussey of leading health and safety consultants, Perry Scott Nash, clarifies the current situation:

1. Can I serve 'pink' meat or offal?

You can still serve beef and lamb rare as per customer requests as long as outside surfaces are fully cooked / sealed - this process will kill harmful bacteria on the outside of the meat. In terms of offal, the advice is that liver and offal generally, must be cooked all the way through as harmful bacteria can be found in the centre of the liver as well as the outside.

2. What if a customer insists on rare or pink offal?

Ask yourself, can you as a business owner afford to take the risk?
Can you guarantee the safety of the foods you are cooking? Can you provide due diligence and integrity at each stage of the process to ensure that food safety is not compromised?

3. What about serving pink burgers?

There's been a great deal of industry chat over the serving of rare burgers - guidance suggests that it is good practice not to serve burgers pink as we cannot guarantee the safety of the product. However, this needs to be assessed on an individual basis as has recently been challenged by one restaurateur who did not accept a notice served by his local authority. Some chefs are adopting the practice of using good quality steak, searing the outside surfaces, mincing and using this product for burgers however, you need to review the product itself, supplier controls and then practices in the kitchen to ensure the safety of the foods you are serving. Here are a few Top Tips for serving rare burgers:

  1. Source from reputable suppliers - check out their food safety standards

 

  • Ask suppliers about bacteriological standards and tests carried out

 

  • Buy whole cuts of meat e.g. steak

 

  • Sear the outside of the meat - both sides

 

  • Mince meat on site with clean equipment - avoid cross contamination risks

 

  • Cook the burgers on as high a heat as possible and for as long as possible so that you retain some 'pinkness'

 

  • Serve burgers immediately on completion of cooking

 

  • Thoroughly clean and sanitise all equipment which came into contact with the raw meat/mince

 

Remember: There is a risk that the meat could be contaminated if not thoroughly cooked. You will never know until it is too late.

Whether we're talking about serving rare or pink meat, or offal, the main issues surrounding food safety in the kitchen remain - it's all about maintaining good standards, engaging reputable suppliers, implementing cross contamination controls, personal hygiene, cleaning controls and underpinned with on-going training.

For more information on this or other matters relating to health and safety in the workplace Contact Us.

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