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Burger Fever

a flashing burger

The rise of the undercooked burger

Fuelled by perceptions that rare and medium burgers are tastier than their well done counterparts, there’s a growing trend among burger restaurants of cooking to customer preference. The bad news is that this undercooked burger culture is a big concern for both the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and the HSE’s Environmental Health Service.

What’s the beef with undercooked burgers?

For one thing, they could make you seriously ill as they carry a higher risk of Salmonella and E. coli. That means diarrhoea, abdominal cramping, pain or tenderness, nausea and vomiting.

While most people recover from food poisoning without any lasting effects, E. coli in particular can do some serious long-term damage to your blood and kidneys.

Young children, pregnant women, older folks and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk. But friends and families can also catch a case of Burger Fever with poor hygiene.

Why can I eat a rare steak but not a rare burger?

Because when it comes to beef, burgers are a whole other animal. Harmful bacteria live only on the surface of a steak and are killed off by cooking it on a high heat.

A burger, on the other hand, is minced so the bacteria spread to the inside as well as the outside of the patty. To kill all the bacteria, it needs to be cooked well done.

Should restaurants be serving me an undercooked burger?

No. They have all been advised of the public health risks of serving undercooked burgers and of their legal obligation to serve food that’s safe to eat.

What can I do to avoid getting sick?

The only way to be sure that any bacteria in the middle of your burger have been killed is to cook it well done at home, or order it well done when eating out.

Watch the video


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© The Food Safety Promotion Board