Can You Eat Burgers Medium Rare?
Many burger restaurants now serve their patties medium rare, leaving some uncertain about the food safety guidelines around burgers. Are there any risks involved in eating a pink burger at a restaurant? And if there aren’t, can you serve them medium rare at home, too?
We took a look at the UK food safety guidelines, to find out what the official advice is and what temperature it’s safe to cook burgers to.
Can you eat burgers medium rare?
No, it is not safe to eat medium rare burgers. Ground beef should always be cooked thoroughly, whether it is used in meatballs, burgers or spaghetti bolognese.
Minced beef is not the same as steak, and must be cooked all the way through to eliminate the risk of food poisoning. Even if it’s good quality mince.
Why ground beef is different to steak
For steaks, harmful bacteria is only carried on the outside of the meat. So, once seared, it is safe to consume. Because minced beef has been ground, the bacteria from the outside of the meat is spread throughout all of the mince before being shaped into a patty. Therefore, it needs to be heated thoroughly all the way through in order to kill all of the bacteria and prevent food poisoning.
This applies to all burgers, even if they are made from good quality or expensive meat.
Why do some restaurants serve medium rare burgers?
Some restaurants are able to put strict controls in place over the production and preparation of their burgers, significantly reducing the risk of harmful bacteria.
However, it’s important to remember that there is still a risk involved when eating an undercooked burger from a restaurant, even with strict controls in place.
The Food Standards Agency recommends that anyone who is vulnerable to food poisoning should only choose burgers that have been cooked thoroughly. This includes:
- people aged 65 or over
- people who are pregnant
- people with a weakened immune system
Safe burger temperature
The safe burger temperature in the UK is 70 °C for two minutes or equivalent. This means the meat should be held at this temperature for two minutes. Alternatively, it could be held at 75 °C for 30 seconds, or 80 °C for six seconds. After this time, you can be confident any bacteria has been destroyed.
This temperature and time combination is standard advice across the UK for most meats, including poultry. The exceptions are steaks or joints of red meat, pork roasts and fish. See our temperature chart for a full guide to food cooking temperatures.
How to check if your burger is cooked
The easiest way to check that your burger is safely cooked, whilst still nice and juicy, is to use an instant-read thermometer probe. A regular meat probe, like our renowned Thermapen food thermometer, is great for quickly checking the internal temperature of any meat, including burgers.
If cooking thinner patties, you might prefer to choose a specialised burger probe, to ensure you get an accurate reading from the centre of the patty. Our Thermapen Burger Probe is perfect for this, or we have a Burger Temperature Probe with a type K connector, ideal for pairing with thermocouple instruments.
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