96% consider themselves well informed about food safety yet 51% are eating undercooked burgers

  • safefood launches Burger Fever to inform people of the dangers of eating undercooked burgers

Thursday 6 July, 2017. An online survey¹ conducted by safefood found that 51% of Irish adults have reported that they eat undercooked burgers when in restaurants. While respondents listed a range of factors as to why they eat undercooked burgers, ranging from taste and confidence in the food preparation, 65% of people said they would reconsider this choice if they knew there was a risk of food poisoning. This research underpins the launch of safefood’s new campaign "Burger Fever" which has been developed to educate the public on the importance of only eating burgers that are cooked through to prevent contracting serious and sometimes life-threatening food poisoning. safefood is calling on people to always ask for burgers to be well cooked.

Commenting on the campaign Dr Gary Kearney, Director of Food Science at safefood, said:

Mince used in hamburgers is a higher risk as the food poisoning bacteria that live on the surface of the beef (steak) is then mixed through the middle of the burger when the beef is minced - so in effect, the outside is now on the inside. The only way to ensure that any bacteria in the middle of the burger is killed off is to ensure that the burger is cooked well done.”

The growing trend of serving burgers cooked to preference or less than well done in restaurants across Ireland has raised concerns for regulatory authorities including the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and the HSE’s Environmental Health Service. As a result earlier this year, the FSAI issued new advice to caterers to only serve burgers that are safe to eat by cooking the meat all the way through.

While most people who get sick from food poisoning will recover without any lasting effects, some E. coli in particular carry the risk of more serious long-term effects.

Dr. Martin Cormican, Professor of Bacteriology at National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), continued, “Some types of E. coli that are harmless to cows can be very dangerous to people. The biggest worry is a type of E. coli called VTEC. VTEC causes severe diarrhoea. About 1 in 10 people who get VTEC diarrhoea will develop severe complications affecting the blood and kidneys. The biggest risk is to children and older people. If there is VTEC in the middle of your burger, only proper cooking will kill it. If your burger is not well cooked in the middle you are taking a big risk. Eating burgers that are pink in the middle is a bit like driving without a seatbelt; you might get away with it for years but if something goes wrong and you are harmed, will you still think it was worth it?”      

Commenting further on the campaign Dr. Kearney said, “With 51% of people surveyed agreeing that they eat undercooked burgers, we know that a lot of people can put themselves at unnecessary risk of food poisoning and we hope our campaign will help to make people more aware. A burger is not like a steak which is often eaten medium or medium rare so we are reminding people that the safest way to enjoy burgers this summer and beyond is to always ask for your burger to be well-cooked.”

You can follow and join in the conversation on #burgerfever. To find out more about safefood visit www.safefood.eu.

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For further information or to request an interview, please contact

Emma Walsh or Orla Gough

Wilson Hartnell

Tel: +353 1 669 0030

Mob: +353 87 317 0897 / +353 85 736 0119

Email: emma.walsh@ogilvy.com or orla.gough@ogilvy.com

Or

Dermot Moriarty / Julie Carroll safefood

Tel: 00353 1 448 0600

Mob: 00353 86 381 1034 (Dermot) / 00353 086 601 6005 (Julie)

Press@safefood.eu

Editor's notes

¹The research was conducted by safefood online in May 2017 with a total sample size of 1,057.

Of the respondents, 57.6% were male and 42.4% were female.

78% of the respondents were aged between 30-49.